N95 + photo => ShoZu => Flickr => GeoRSS => Google Maps

Thankyouthankyouthankyou Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith for leading the way to that holy grail of Nokia N95 usership: No-fuss uploads of just-taken, automatically geotagged photos to my Flickr account, viewable live by anyone via Google Maps while I’m still in the field taking pictures.

The hero of Andrew’s story is a wonderful application named ShoZu, which I think is destined for fame and fortune as more of these kinds of phones go on sale.

Basically, ShoZu is a conduit between all the photos and videos on your phone and the myriad of web services you can post them to. It does this by remembering your userids and passwords for each service, and then publishing the content you select via that service’s API. It’s free.

You can post images, video and/or text directly to Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, Vox, LiveJournal, Google’s Picasaweb, YouTube, Blip.tv, Windows Live Spaces, Flickr and many more lesser known services, some of which sound quite intriguing (like Qipit).

You can also send stuff to an email address, to an FTP server, or — and this is just amazing — the BBC or CNN, in case the submission is newsworthy. To publish content, you can either use your phone account’s data connection (which may be expensive), or you can wait until you get within range of wifi.

As Andrew notices, Shozu has an option that automatically adds coordinate data to the photos you take if a GPS fix is available. Currently on the N95, you need to “hotwire” the GPS tracking by running another program that turns it on, like the built-in maps program or Nokia’s free Sports Tracker. An upcoming version of ShoZu will be able to turn on the GPS tracking module all by itself, writes a ShoZu developer in a comment to Andrew’s post.

When you upload a georeferenced picture to Flickr with ShoZu, it is automatically geotagged, which of course means that it is viewable on Flickr’s own map, but also via your own personal GeoRSS feed. While Flickr’s map functionality is lovely, it lacks high resolution imagery in areas crucial to me (Sweden, Egypt, Belgium), so instead I subscribe to the feed using Google Maps’s support for GeoRSS. Here is my newly minted Google Maps geotagged Flickr feed. Notice how accurate the GPS fixes are — indeed, to within 10 meters in every case. (I’m not sure why I’m getting duplicate items at the moment, though.)

So what are the next steps for seeing this service become more seamless?

I’m hoping that Shozu will soon support Panoramio. This would also solve another problem: There is currently no easy free way to subscribe to my georeferenced Flickr photos in Google Earth, because Google Earth does not currently support GeoRSS feed subscriptions, like Google Maps does. (Trippermap does provide a KML feed for a user’s Flickr photos, at $10 per year. I’ll be giving that a try.) Of course, an easier solution would be for Google Earth to support GeoRSS — something which Rev Dan Catt asks for eloquently here:-)

I’d also like to be able to paste an inline Google Map of my Flickr GeoRSS feed onto my website. Perhaps Flickr could offer feed options, filtering for just the most recent 10 pictures or two weeks’ worth of photos or so — something which will have people coming back for more. (Or perhaps Feedburner could get GeoRSS support so I can roll my own feeds.)

It would also be nice if Picasaweb were to become geospatially enabled. You can use Google’s standalone photo management program, Picasa, to geotag photos with Google Earth, but this information is not used when you publish the result to Picasaweb. This is one opportunity for integration between two Google properties — A Google Earth network link from Picasaweb — which hasn’t yet been taken advantage of.

And how about automatically geotagged videos? I noticed this past weekend when uploading my videos of a little protest rally I was at here in Stockholm is that YouTube now asks you (optionally) for the date when the video was taken, and where exactly it was taken. Is Google building a database of georeferenced videos? A geospatially enabled YouTube, perhaps with a default layer in Google Earth if/when inline video arrives to that application, would truly be a stunner. Want to see all the videos taken at a specific football match? You’d just zoom in on the stadium, filter for the specific day, and see the game from as many different angles as there are video uploads.

11 thoughts on “N95 + photo => ShoZu => Flickr => GeoRSS => Google Maps”

  1. Wow! This is great news. Revolutionary news! It would be nice if the iPhone folks at Apple read this and start thinking about ways to incorporate these sorts of features into their upcoming device. As it stands know, I understand the phone will be largely closed to outside develpors for now. Aside from aesthetics and the user interface, the N95 seems to trump the iPhone specs, especially with its dedicated GPS chip which for me is a very key feature.

    Keene

  2. Yes, this very good, mapperz had done this in practice and Andrew (Digital Urban) has done a very good round up and step by step guide.

    Would be nice for Nokia to take note and add the GeoTag option with the next firmware for the N95.

    One note on ShoZu is if the memory card (MicroSD) is taken out and place back in it will try and upload those images again.

    But does work and will be using this on big trip very soon. Just need a spare battery for the N95.

    Though still a impressive phone (sorry computer).

    What’s in your pocket?

  3. TripperMap is very good, but you can also use Mapufacture supports converting GeoRSS to KML (for free).

    For putting a GoogleMap of your Flickr feed, this is very easy now that the GoogleMaps api supports GeoRSS. You can just grab the flickr RSS (with &georss=1 tacked to the end), feed it to GoogleMaps and you’re done.

    Here is an example I did for a workshop, and it uses Mapstraction for switching between providers (bottom map, the top one shows how you can embed a Mapufacture feed in a map):

    Flickr GoogleMap

  4. > (I’m not sure why I’m getting duplicate items at the moment, though.)

    That’s because the flickr includes two flavours of GeoRSS in its feed – which confuses GMaps.

    Ideally flickr shouldn’t do that, but it basically makes sense to allow greatest compatibility, but also Google shouldnt duplicate it either – but is almost correct in doing so. Both side I think are aware of the issue.

  5. @Barry – correct, Google is mis-interpreting because GeoRSS doesn’t currently support multiple, different geometries per item. Therefore, multiple geometries should be interpreted as variations on the same geometry and clients should consume the most complex one that they understand.

    This is useful if you want to publish, say, complex polygons in GML (or in a different coordinate reference system) but also want to just provide a simple point in WGS84 for clients that don’t understand GML.

  6. > There is currently no easy free way to subscribe to my georeferenced Flickr photos in Google Earth.

    Free but not exactly trivial but still quite easy, is this:

    http://www.geonames.org/rss-to-georss-converter.html

    which will do it. (as well as geoRss output it has KML so it can be used as a GeoRSS->KML converter) You can also use this as network link so can auto-update like a traditional RSS feed.

    - Can post better instructions if needbe :)

  7. Barry, yes please, as I didn’t see how to get Geonames to provide a dynamic KML feed — I thought it was just a static conversion…

  8. Something like:

    http://ws.geonames.org/rssToGeoRSS?feedUrl=http://today.reuters.com/rss/worldNews&type=kml

    should open you the routers feed in Google Earth

    You can also post this URL into a create new Network Link dialog box.

    The trick is that the URL of the feed will be URL encoded, if got special chars, so using this template:

    http://ws.geonames.org/rssToGeoRSS?feedUrl={encodedurl}&type=kml

    and the tool on the geonames page to encode a url.

    However I probably can’t explain as well as can code, so will create a little page to do all the above automatically.

  9. And then, there is the issue of the slowness of the builtin GPS. Being used with garmin gps’s, I found the n95 gps to be nearly useless, as it takes more than one minute (close to 1:30min) to get a fix. No, it is not the first fix.

  10. @pmarc supposedly the firmware upgrade for the N95 fixes this somewhat by doing a sort of Assisted-GPS by using the local cell location to get a quicker solution. I think the official word is it speeds up a typical fix from 90 seconds to 70 seconds.

    However, this is still limited in my experience, and if I close my phone or cover it up at all, or ‘gasp’ indoors, the fix is lost.

    What I think they should do – or someone could prototype in pys60 – is a 3-way hybrid location solution that mixes WiFi, GPS, and Cell for a fix of varying quality – depending on availability.

    In addition to using what’s available, the system also gets better by learning wifi/cell positions using GPS when it actually is available so you get a more accurate solution when it’s not.

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