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Express Check(this)out: OpenHeatMap

January 25, 2011

I’ve been fooling around for a month or so now with OpenHeatMap. It’s a great example of what a savvy developer can do if they’re interested in journalism too.

It’s a free service and still needs work, mainly in UI, but the guy who built it (Pete Warden) is still improving it and will add features if you email and ask him nicely. For me he added support for image icons (so it calls the URL of an image, like Google Maps allows).

One neat feature is that it imports data straight from Google Docs (which I’ve been using more often lately too), so you can embed one map and have it update automatically by replacing the spreadsheet in Google Docs.

I’m doing this at the moment here, helping Fairfax’s Auckland papers map burglaries. I had to write some code to tidy up the data each week in Excel, but once it’s in the right format (OpenHeatMap is quite picky about that), OpenHeatMap imports the dates and makes the slider automatically.

Pretty cool, huh?

Unfortunately I can’t embed the map here to show you, so you’ll have to click here to see it in all its glory. Definitely worth a play if you’re mapping data.

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