June 17th, 2013 City Planning: From Global to Local

On Monday, June 17, 2013, OLC attended OpenGeo’s event, City Planning: From Global to Local held at Google’s offices. Scott Bridge of Google Maps NYC and Dave McClusky, Geospatial Engineer at Google presented.
To Scott Bridges, Geo New York is about empowering government. It’s about making smarter, faster and better decisions to improve operations, save money and enhance safety. “Our job is to bring data together,” Bridges said. “We want to bring it together in easy ways; meaningful ways. We want to enable you to help bring all the rich data together.”
In our current world, there are huge amounts of data, from 340 million Tweets per day (and only increasing), 15+ billion RFID tags in the world and over one billion mobiles worldwide. In fact, just 2 percent of data is not digital. “We can datafy almost everything. 
From social, likes, location...so the question became, ‘How can we organize data and present it?’” Bridges said.
Luckily, Google’s DNA includes big data—which is a big portion of what they do. They process 20 billion pages a day with over 100 billion search queries per month. Google boasts 425 million Gmail users (with the numbers actually hitting 550 million) and 72+ hours uploaded every minute. 
“Everything we do, the infrastructure, the system, we’re making available to the government, the private companies. We’re removing silos of information. Work the way you live,” Bridges said.
Google is providing affordable, scalable and maintainable systems to visualize assets, infrastructure, imagery and related information across dozens of agencies. Their common operating picture allows for better operational efficiency and emergency response and easy access to information about the user’s community. It allows for easily visualized planning and zoning information. Integrated systems are used for analysis and actions, which in turn improve operations and maintenance. This ultimately saves money and time with better asset management and project management. 
“This is about empowering employees and citizens to participate in the decision-making process and communities,” Bridges said.
Dave McClusky presented next on Geospatial Cloud Computing at Google Scale. McClusky first gave a brief history of Google Maps. 
Google Maps was launched in 2005 and since then, “it has singlehandedly transformed our lives. Everyone uses it every day thanks to GIS experts,” he said. In 2006, the mobile version was launched. In 2007, Streetview was launched in five US cities and real-time traffic was added to Maps. In 2009, the first real-time turn-by-turn navigation and today, Google Maps has driving directions in 187 countries. 
Maps is now expanding at an incredible rate, publishing image enhancements every week, totaling about 20 petabytes of data.
Its Ground Truth Initiative is building the world’s most accurate map. “We’re remapping the world by using algorithms and elbow grease,” McClusky said. “Using satellite image, you can extract a lot of information. And by using Streetview, you can extract roads, businesses, street names, lanes and a lot more. It allows us to have fresh information and timely information.”
McClusky demoed Google Mapmaker, which crowdsources information. It allows people to map their own world. “We also get a lot of user-submitted reports,” he said. “It’s a lot of reporting violations, but that’s not scalable for us.”
Google Mapmaker Pulse lets users see what’s being added to Mapmaker in real-time. 
“We’re doing a lot of work on indoor maps. We rely on working with partners and communities to bring in floor plans. Our app called Floor Plan Marker geolocates users indoors using WiFi nodes and maps the WiFi terrain in the user’s environment,” McClure said.
The new Google Maps is custom tailored to the user. The load time is clearer and faster, and when businesses are clicked, the map reloads the search to show relevant businesses around the area. Users can jump right into Streetview or indoor view, back out to satellite and terrain view. A new feature added to Google Maps is the Photo View, which uses image recognition technology to stitch together pictures uploaded by users to give a 3Dlike visual tour of the attraction. Using HTML5 and WebGI, Maps can let users view cities in 3D. The placement of the sun and the stars are in real-time and the clouds are in real-time as well.