Cheese croutons to BusinessInsider.com, which had a recent article about a site called Dealmap, a metasearch for geographically-based retail deals and discounts. That’s the only way I can think to put it. It aggregates local deal offerings (like Foursquare, Groupon, etc.) and chunks them on a map. You can try it at http://www.thedealmap.com/.
Here’s how it works: you specify a city/state or a zip code. Dealmap generates a map with icons for different kinds of deals — restaurants, hotels, shopping, etc. Click on an icon and you’ll get some details about the deal at the bottom of the map (that’s what’s happening in the screenshot.) Then you can either click on “Get Deal” (which takes you to the deal page on another site) or click on the “More Details” which keeps on Dealmap and gives you more information about the offering, where it came from, a picture of the business, etc. I saw deals from Restaurant.com, TheDealist.com, what looked like e-mailed newsletters from the companies themselves, KGB Deals, and Goldstar. (Users and local businesses are also invited to submit their own deals, with the caveat that online-only deals are not allowed.
I went to search near a location that I knew offered a coupon through Google Places, and I did not find its coupon, so either that one was missed or Google Places offers are not listed. Despite that there’s enough here to keep you interested. I looked at the map for Nome, Alaska, and despite having a population of under 4,000 there was still one deal there — special prices at Subway.
Dealmap has several ways to keep track of offers away from the Web site, including presences on Facebook and Twitter. There are also daily e-mail newsletters for several different cities and — coming soon — some apps. An easy way to get the skinny on cheap deals for this weekend or any time, and pretty easy to use.
Last Tuesday Google introduced Google Places, sort of. Google has had a Local Business Center, a place where business owners could register their businesses and provide additional information, for quite a long time. The renaming of the site is Google Places and there is a little bit of new functionality, but most of it’s not available unless you’re in certain rollout cities. Google Places is available at http://www.google.com/places.
That URL isn’t going to do you much good unless you’ve verified a place of business. And that’s where the first big change has come; if you run a business without a storefront or a formal office — say, you work from home — you can now register a business and keep your address private. And if you have a business where you go out into the community to provide a service, you can specify a geographic area that you serve. Great ideas for service businesses and consultants.
No matter what kind of business you have, you can also now get customized QR codes, which you can put in your own marketing material. A QR code is a sort-of bar code that can direct users who scan it with their cell phones to the mobile version of a business’ Place Page. You can learn more about QR codes at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code. Your business may already have a QR code image if you were named one of Google’s Favorite Places. Google is sending out window decals to another 50,000 “Favorite Places” so you might be getting that in the mail too.
Google already had several useful features in place for its Google Local Business — there are stats reports showing what people are searching for when they find your listing, and the zip codes from which viewers are requesting driving directions. And more recently Google offered a way to post a “real-time” update on a Maps listing — a little tweet sized update that can also contain an URL if you like. It would be REAL handy if Google added its goo.gl URL shortener to the mix so you could track clickthroughs on your update. As it is you have to use your own bit.ly or something, and the reports are not integrated into Google Places.
Some of Google’s new Places offerings are available in only a few places. Google is now offering business photo shoots which is exactly what it sounds like — a business can request that Google come in and do a free photo shoot of its store. No word on where that’s available but it kind of blows my mind. Google is also offering the ability to pay $25 a month to get “Tags” for making Google Maps listings stand out. Tags are only available in five cities at the moment with five more on the way.
As a consumer I’m a little leery of advertising on Google Maps. As someone who has dealt with Yellow Pages sales reps and totaled up costs for line listings and tiny little black and white ads, I’m thrilled at the idea of paying 25 bucks a month to advertise in a medium where I can get quantifiable, trackable results. Google’s challenge is going to be to balance this revenue opportunity (I’m sure you can multiply my feelings by thousands and thousands of business owners) versus a good experience for searchers/consumers.
What’s the opposite of spring cleaning? Spring adding? Spring enhancing? Whatever it is, Bing is doing it, with an announcement last week of new features coming up on its Web site.
The first thing is the Quick Tabs in the Explore Pane at the left of the search results. The links here are sort of a combination of clustered search and context. If you do a search for Dallas, for example, you’ll get general links to Dallas events and Dallas weather and Dallas jobs, but you’ll also see related searches like Dallas TV Show, Dallas Morning News, etc. Bing is testing moving some of this data to the top of the page for better/faster/more obvious access. I’m not seeing this yet, but I hope the results are true tabs (easy to get back to original results.) Bing is doing a good job of helping users easily add context to their searches and get key data from their searches with their left nav.
Bing is also riding that real-time bandwagon. It’s already teamed with Twitter and has started testing “new experiences for real-time results.” Also in its own words: “For example, when you search for a publication such as the New York Times, Bing not only gives you quick access to specific sections of the destination website, but also provides the most popular shared links from that publication.” When I did a search for New York Times I got a first result that looked like this:
In this case the latest links at the bottom were not, as far as I could tell, the most popular. Instead they were the latest items from the NYT feed. The “Latest Posts” feed links to an XML file. Searching for Washington Post and LA Times didn’t find any latest posts. However, searching for Dallas Morning News did find a search result for the latest stories.
From Bing Cool to Bing Pfui. Bing also announced a new feature called Map App. Map App shows real-time data from foursquare on the map you specify. Sounds neat, right? I’ll have to take Bing’s word for it; I can’t get it to run. I’ll hold off on my rant about Adobe Flash and now Microsoft Silverlight… gaaaaah.
The map app aside, I’m looking forward to integration of more shortcuts to important data in search results, and, hopefully, some more credible real-time than a random Twitter stream.
Thanks to Laboratory Equipment for the heads up. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has a new “community driven” Web site showing photovoltaic installations across the US. Open PV has over 67,000 installations catalogued. (Well, newish — it started accepting data in November.) You can access it at http://openpv.nrel.gov/.
There’s a “Market Mapper” that lets you look at a map of the US and see a variety of statistics about installations, average cost per watt, etc. But if you just want to see what’s going on in your neighborhood, you can do a zip code search and see what’s been installed in your area. The vast majority of installations in this database — over 51000 — are in California, so you might have to do a bit of searching if you don’t use a California zip code.
I did a search of 90210 and found 30 installations. Results are presented in a table that shows things like date of installation, cost per watt, and system cost, but if you click the little green button next to the result you’ll get a few more details like a map of the location, incentive amount, and county. If you want to do more extensive searches, go to the search page and you can search by kW size and/or date completed, in addition to location.
I read several government blogs and aside from this head cold have spent very little time recently under a rock. Therefore I know that the 2010 census forms will be mailed this month. Despite all the TV commercials and the Web hype, the US government wants to make AB-SO-LUTE-LY sure; I got a letter today letting me know that soon the census forms would be mailed.
Maybe this constant stream of reminders is making you wonder about the 2000 census. How many people sent in the census last time? According to a Census.gov press release, the census completion compliance in 2000 was 72%. But that tells you only the compliance for the whole country. To see how your community did, you’ll have to check out the new map available at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/.
The map defaults to the entire US and uses shading to show the percentage of compliance across all the states. But enter a city name or a zip code, and you can zoom all the way down to “local” level to see how people responded to the census on a neighborhood level.
I started with my old standby 90210 and ended up zoomed down around West Hollywood. The shadings at this level show how different compliance percentages can be even on a block-by-block basis.
The data showing now is for the 2000 census, but the Census Bureau has announced that once the census forms are mailed, there will be daily updates showing compliance for the 2010 census.
This is an interesting tool though sometimes the map data loads a little slowly, especially at the neighborhood level. It also begs the question of how this technology could be used elsewhere. I mean, it’s great to see graphs of how the citizenry is participating in the democratic process. How about the same mapping technology for individual states, to show how many votes representatives were present for, how many constituent communications were responded to, etc.?
It’s time once again for large amounts of data, sliced and diced thin! Google announced on Monday the new Google Labs project, Google Public Data Explorer. You can check it out at http://www.google.com/publicdata/home with the available data sets to explore at http://www.google.com/publicdata/directory.
The front page of the Public Data Explorer had birth rates and life expectancy in a graph that had a slider, so different data could be viewed for different years. I wanted to take a look at the US unemployment rates.
The screen shot I’m showing has the US unemployment percentage with comparisons for a couple of different age groups, but you could also break this data down by state, by gender, or even by seasonality. The graph has an adjustable time span so you can narrow the focus of the data you’re looking at.
Once you’ve found an interesting set of data, maybe you want to share it. Look for the “Link” icon and you can either post a plain link or embed the graph. You can also choose whether to update the data in the graph as it becomes available or leave it static.
I look forward to seeing what other data becomes available thanks to this new project. And though I appreciate the worldwide and countrywide stuff, I would love to see more state-based sets becoming available…