Create, publish and socialize your own geo map using GPS functionality on device

I have been using google’s my tracks on my android phone and it has been challenging. It has many settings, including how often it alerts you of your travels, and how often it will ask where you are. It is not always accurate due to this granularity of sensitivity and the instability of the android platform. Dont get me wrong, i love my android phone but it is a model of flakiness. GPS location can nod off, even with plenty of sky above you. It worsens being in the concrete jungle that is NYC with its tall buildings. I found turning wifi on while the gps also is on can cause a very noisy track. I know that android phones use wifi to triangulate position, and in their other services, it is possible to get more accurate position data when it is on. That doesn’t seem so with this app.

We went up to storm king art museum in new windsor new york. I took some pictures and posted it to my flickr account. I attempted a crude mashup of the images with place markers on a google map. Of note, it was easier remembering where i went seeing the actual trail/track on a map. It helped with recollection and spatial memory.

google maps page,

Being able to see the photos works  better on the google map page.  The default size of my maps plugin coupled with my CSS obscures the pictures.

Here is an example of a noisy map where my wifi was on and the interval between gps readings was set to low.

My trip to Korea Town

Here is more tweaking of mytracks’ settings so i can accurately measure my commute. The data of the start and stop of my commute alone should be valuable enough to get a better understanding of what my commute looks like blown up to a larger sample size.


Notice how the signal is lost when i get on the subway and resumes when i catch a gps signal again. If you notice, my path takes me past the 59th street bridge. I lost track of the stops on an express train and had to get off at the next stop.   It’s little things like that which make me really love this whole map my life thing. I have wanted to measure the amount of time my commute takes for years. Yes, i think i am one of those life quantifiers.

It would be nice if mytracks could be activated using a simple key press or google voice activation (yeah google, apple’s siri is going to kick your ass in that dept). That way, it would be easy to stop and start any track. If i plan on doing this everyday, it would be great to find a solution like that.  it would also be nice for documentation that whenever you take a picture with your phone, it links it to the position on a map automatically. That way, it is accurate and you do not have to go back to mistakenly place an image’s location. I have GPS metadata on for my camera, but a true integration would be nice. Combining all this disparate data for mashups is key, and it would be key for it to be automatic. When you create any media on an android phone– a tweet, audio, video, note, reminder, listen to a song–  it should be connected to a track if it is currently being recorded. You can curate an experience of just walking and exploring that creates an entire narrative that is linked to a space. Imagine if  people who participated in Occupy were automatically combining all the things they were doing on the protest through my tracks and their phone. You could experience the moment through this data. For reporters, it could make for dynamic and interesting pieces, where the act of documenting an event has a unique level of transparency.

update: i recall asking foursquare founder dennis crowley when he spoke at ITP  if  his platform would include  this type of recording. He has always been an advocate of using this data to empower positive acts in one’s life. I am not a foursquare user, but i wonder if their API might be a better fit for recording these types of projects.