How much do you know about the area you are at right now? If you are near your home or office, your answer is probably, “a lot!” That’s what I thought too until recently. We have, after all, Google Maps mashups, Augmented Reality browsers and hundreds if not thousands of other information tools to refer to. However, I learned how little I know about my own neighborhood after trying out this free iPhone (iPad) app:
SimpleGeo assembles publicly available data to give you a view both wide and deep about an area. There are three main information tabs plus an “About” tab.
- Context: This first tab provides a framework that defines the area around your current location: Government districts (including a map of the district(s)), weather, demographics (population density), street intersections and geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude).
- Places: This tab displays a map with pushpins representing businesses. I first tried it in a business area and saw what I expected: Many pushpins with the names of business in the area around me. However, when I ran SimpleGeo at home, I was somewhat surprised to see the same thing: Many pushpins with the names of businesses around me in a residential area.
- Storage: The third and final informational tab seems oddly named but is very useful and interesting. It lets you select from four “Layers” of information sources: Wikipedia (default selection), Project Noah, Geonames and Flickr. You can select any or all of the layers for use with the map. Each layer is assigned a particular color to help you select items by layer category on the map. You are probably familiar with all the sources with the possible execptin of Project Noah. Project Noah is a crowdsourced wildlife documentation project.
Combined the information collected by SimpleGeo is fascinating to look at. However, note that the geographical accuracy in my area is very low. Every beach park, for example, was shown as hundreds of yards inland from their actual location. Consider the locations provided as a general indication of the vicinity something is in rather than actual location information.