Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Google Maps, Saving Lives

Can this be true? Can Google Maps actually save lives? Maybe.

Yesterday we were talking about how Google Maps has been used rather creatively, my favorite being GMRisk. My co-worker mentioned that he was a volunteer firefighter and had thought about using Google Maps to plot out the locations of fire hydrants. This is what got me thinking how Google Maps could be used as a public service by making it inexpensive to provide dynamic maps for organizations that couldn't otherwise afford to do so.

For example, the Georgia Sex Offenders Map makes it very easy to see where these people are, and if you have children, where you might not want to move. This is the type of information that you could typically find available on the web, but it was cumbersome to find geographic relationships in the data. It was like trying to see who lives on your street by reading the phone book. The data just wasn't organized in a way that was easy to use. Google Maps is making this easier, and now affordable to do.

So again, can Google Maps save lives? Yes, I think that maybe someday it will.

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