Google Local goes wild


Think Google Local (formerly Google Maps) is cool and useful? As Al Jolson used to say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” There are many amazing applications that layer information on top of Google Local, such as live traffic information, crime maps, and so on. All this is made possible because Google freely publishes an Application Programming Interface (API) that lets people create applications on top of Google Local.

Here’s a short selection of some of the best:

Google Traffic Maps ( Want to make your morning or afternoon commute a little easier? Before you leave home or the office, head to this site, then type in your city and state or zip code, and you’ll see a map that shows you a Google map of your area, with traffic hot spots superimposed on top of it. Click a spot to get details of the holdup.

Map Mash


NYSee ( If you live around New York City, you can do even better—this site shows you locations of live traffic cams throughout the metropolitan area. Click on any to see the live view of traffic. The page also includes traffic advisories for specific locations.

Zip code finder ( Having trouble finding a zip code for a location? Just head to this site, click a location on a map or do a search, and you’ll be shown the zip code. It’s also a reverse zip code finder, so you can type in a zip code and it will show you where it is.

Find cheap gas ( One thing you can count on—gasoline isn’t getting any cheaper. But driving from gas station to gas station trying to find the least-expensive prices is self-defeating, because you’ll spend so much extra time and money driving around. This site solves the problem. Head to it and search for cheap gas using the “regular” tag, include your zip code, and you’ll be shown locations of the least-expensive gas within five miles.