Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NearMap Goes Live!

When I was writing my recent post about Stuart Nixon and his latest project: NearMap, the site was not yet operational. But today, to my great excitement, I got an anonymous tip that NearMap is up and running! I could not resist and took it immediately for a test drive.

My first impression is that NearMap looks… so familiar! Creators went to a great length to ensure NearMap has the "look and feel" of other online maps, like Google or Bing. It is quite appropriate because potential users will be immediately familiar with how it works… Yet, there is also plenty of unique features. One such feature is a sliding bar across the top of the map which allows scrolling through imagery acquired at different points in time. Perth has the best selection. Currently high resolution coverage is limited to major Australian cities (Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth) but there is enough there to fully demonstrate the quality of imagery and functionality of NearMap. There are a few Landsat mosaics and Blue Marble monthly mosaic series from 2004 to cover the rest of the world for now.

Another unique feature is "Terrain" viewing mode which depicts terrain model derived from high resolution imagery (including buildings!). And when you are in PhotoMap viewing mode and zoom close enough, "Multiview" option is activated which allows observing the object on the ground from 4 different directions. This feature is similar to Bing's Birds-eye view mode.

NearMap street overlay comes from OpenStreetMap. It is worth noting that, unlike other suppliers, NearMap actually encourages users to utilise its imagery to improve the quality of this community generated and maintained vector dataset. There is "Edit" button on the map that takes the user directly to OpenStreetMap site. NearMap can be embedded in other websites with iframe HTML element (as in this blog for example) and specific locations can be bookmarked, shared and/or linked to with a unique URL address.

I am very impressed with NearMap. The level of detail on imagery is amazing and directional views, although not perfectly stitched, are very realistic indeed. You can literary "peek over the fence" and see what your neighbor is up to! I just hope it won't become a big issue that will necessitate degrading of the resolution of publicly viewable imagery. The application is very responsive and there is definitely a great potential for NearMap to carve a big niche in the online mapping market, in direct competition with Google and Bing maps.

I will share with you how to view NearMap images in true 3D but for that you will have to come back next time. :-)


Alex Kwiatkowski said...

Hi Arek,

We're re-working the embedding code so that it works cross browser and with a less cluttered layout. It should be up in the next couple of days.


Arek said...

All good! Thanks Alex