Google Map, Earth, MapMaker, Spreadsheet Mapper, Fusion Tables...
The Google spatial tools have gained a high popularity in the humanitarian and development world, because they are interactive and easy to handle. Most people have come across location maps based on Google data or have used the Google rooting system when trying to get from A to B. Therefore the layout and the functions are familiar to them. Especially for products which can be shared with the general public and Donor Outreach, Google tools are widely used and products created, mostly in kml format, which can be plugged into Google Maps and Google Earth. Interesting for Non Profit Organisations is also the Google Earth Outreach Gallery, where kmls which are of public interest can be showcased. In My Maps, people can store their own information and make it publicly available or through sharing the link within their network only. You can also embed your kmls directly in Google Maps or a Google Earth Plugin viewer, if you prefer people exploring the data while still being on your webpage.
Map Maker takes it another step further and asks for active contributions from the user. Similar to the Wikipedia principle, any registered user can review and submit data to augment maps, especially in areas where the Google baseline data is not complete. In a humanitarian crisis, Google sometimes releases this data and allows downloads to assist the organisations with their response. However, unlike other systems, the data is not downloadable all the time.
Spreadsheet Mapperis a Google Table hosted online (you can find it on My documents when logged in to Google) with specific mapping functions. You can design your kml in this document, starting from the symbol to the popup and you can share the network and grant viewing as well as Editing access. This is ideal, if you work on a project collaboratively and the data changes frequently. It avoids people working with old versions. However, you will need to be online to view the kml, since the data cannot be retrieved while being offline.
Google Fusion Tablesallow the creation of kmls but are also well adapted to store attribute data and to receive data, e.g. use it for synchronising data into. Same as the Spreadsheet Mapper, you will need to be online to access the data and edit it.
- Google Earth tutorials: http://www.google.com/earth/learn/beginner.html
- Learn about MapMaker:http://support.google.com/mapmaker/bin/static.py?hl=en&guide=30028&topic=1094318&page=guide.cs
- How to set up a Google Spreadsheet Mapper:http://earth.google.com/intl/en_uk/outreach/tutorial_spreadsheet.html
- Take a tour: Google Fusion Tables: http://www.google.com/fusiontables/public/tour/index.html
CartONG ‘s involvement
CartONG has worked on all aspects of the above mentioned Google products. We have produced Outreach kmls for UNHCR “A Refugee's Life”, for Caritas and their Haiti Projects, (one of our most popular downloads), for Rongead “Le Monde de l’Anacarde” for their cashew nut development project and for our Google REDD+ project in Vietnam for which we had won a Google.org grant.
The collaborative and realtime mapping aspect of Spreadsheet Mapper we explored with network links in our radio mapping projects with IMS, AMARC and Internews for Haiti and Chile after the earthquake.
We have also explored statistical mapping, with an offline version of Spreadsheetmapper where the operation just needs to plug in their data updates every month to extract a new kml showing the current situation. This we utilised for our Iraq and neighbouring countries statistical analysis on Displaced Persons project.
New is our apporach of linking Android spatial mapping with Google Earth and Google Fusion Table to map infrastructure which attribute data is stored in Google Fusion Tables. This allows a collaborative approach and easy integration with the UNHCR GeoPortal.
Please get in touch if you want to know more, we are happy to discuss the options you have with Google products with you and we can also provide capacity building and training on them for you and your organisation.