I've been asked to do Vista & Office event at Derby University in February and I went on to the University website to find out the location of their campus. Now back in the day, Google were innovative with with their Map service and the University have used it to create an interactive map showing where the different campuses are in Derby.
When I'm figuring out where I'm travelling to I don't use Google Maps - not because I'm a Microsoftie but because Live.com maps is a better, more useful mapping service. I'll tell you why.
On Live.com Maps, I can find the campus location and then I can view an overhead aerial photograph of the area and find the building. But wait, I can do that with Google Maps right? Yes you can. What you can't then do is switch to "Bird's Eye View" which gives me a fantastic isometric view of the area - check out the screenshot! I find this really useful to familiarise myself with the area before driving - the basic overhead shot is good but this is better for my sense of direction and to recognise landmarks.
I can even choose a compass direction from which to view the isometric shot from so I can checkout different angles around a particular building - in my example I can see all four sides of the University of Derby's main campus - I can even see the flags that they feature in the image on their website.
I've also created a public collection of three of the Campus buildings (you can check it out here). In this collection I've also added a bit of blurb about each location, a link to the relevant campus page on the University's website and a link to an image on their website! Now when I hover over the pushpin, I get a little panel show up which gives me the blurb, the link and a nice picture of the location. On the main campus image I can even see the flags that I mentioned earlier on Bird's eye view!
I've also made this map searchable so that Live.com searches can pick it up using tags!
I thought I also better mention the Virtual Earth plugin for IE that you allows you to view a 3D model of the area right in your browser... admitidely they haven't got the 3D models mapped for Derby, but it's only a matter of time!!! 🙂
Mike P in my team has got some interesting posts on how you can get the VE and Live.com Maps technology on your website as well as integrating Live.com search on your website like The Times online and The Register have done:
Challenge to Derby Uni
My challenge to Derby University is to take my collection and finish it by adding all the other campuses to it and getting it online on their website in time for me arriving on the 21st of February. Otherwise, I'm not going to be able to find out where I'm going and I'll probably be late for the event!!!
So why the title of this post? Google are doing cool things with technology but Microsoft are doing very cool stuff as well. The maps thing is an example of technology that doesn't get the press and attention it deserves.