Light up the World

Christmas is almost upon us and this is likely to be the last blog of the term so regular followers will no doubt be expecting a topical tale or a link to Yuletide geo-app.

The obvious candidate for most would probably be the NORAD Santa Tracker. The service has been running for over 50 years and is now provided by the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD).

Since 2007, NORAD has worked with Google to follow Santa on his annual world delivery round, however, in a move reminiscent of the controversial Apple saga a few months ago, NORAD has dropped Google maps and has now teamed up with Microsoft Bing.

In response, Google has launched it’s own Santa Tracker. Before working with NORAD, Google tracked Santa using its Google Earth tool. The company will still be loosely affiliated with NORAD as Google-owned YouTube will continue to host dispatches from the government agency concerning Santa’s whereabouts.

But what about the real reason for Christmas? These days it is all too easily lost amongst the trappings of tradition and commercialism.

Launched in 2008 the free YouVersion Bible App has helped to engage people with the bible and now claims over 60 million users. Now YouVersion has made it possible to see how many people are reading the Christmas story during the holidays. The Christmas Story Tracker has a running total of how many people have read the Christmas Story (Luke 2: 1-20) and it also lights a star on the map when someone in the world is currently using the app to read the story.

How does it work? YouVersion already have extensive analyticals across their apps and APIs and are aggregating all of these sources to a large data store on Google’s cloud services before processing the data with BigQuery. A slice of the data is then displayed via a web-front end at Christmas Story Tracker.

The Bloggers at MapMad, on behalf of Salford GIS, wish all their followers a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

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