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Tracking the Tree

November 17th Gordy Grove, an independent owner operator for National Van Lines, left Seattle hauling the 65-foot Pacific Silver Fir tree that will be displayed at our nation’s capitol this holiday season.

November 17th Gordy Grove, an independent owner operator for National Van Lines, left Seattle hauling the 65-foot Pacific Silver Fir tree that will be displayed at our nation’s capitol this holiday season.

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Thanks to Global Locating System technology provided by Sterling, Va.-based SkyBitz, the public is able to track Mr. Grove’s ten day journey to Washington D.C. The trailer’s geographic location is displayed every fifteen minutes on a Google Map that allows you to zoom in and out or display the entire route. As I write this, the trailer and tree are near Peoria, Illinois.

This combination of tracking technology that can provide up-to-the-minute location information and the ease of display of Google Maps started me thinking about the myriad of tracking Mashups that might be available.

A brief search turned up a map that shows where marathoner Dean Karnazes is on his cross-country run from New York City to San Francisco and another map that shows the current race status of competitors in the Baja 1000 off-road race.

But since it’s the holiday season, what I really want to know is if a Mashup has been created that allows a person to observe Santa’s path. Last year people could track Santa Claus using Google Earth beginning Christmas Eve.

Apparently, Mr. Claus also took advantage of a Google Maps Mashup last year. From the Google Blog:

To: “Google Support”
From: claus@gmail.com
Subject: Naughty or Nice Layer

I love Google Earth and have been planning a big trip with it. Now I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about licensing data layers for “nice” and “naughty.” If interested, I’ve got a really good list — I’ve checked it twice. Rooftop accurate data!

Let me know,
S. Claus

If even Santa is using Mashups, clearly Google Maps Mashups have changed the way we think about location information. What are some fun or practical tracking Mashups you’d like to see? What are some potential applications that scare you?

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