Google Maps Projects Help Charities, Allow For Street Views Messages

Google Maps APIs are used by developers around the world to build creative mapping applications. Here are several of the latest maps offerings.

The Google Maps API always seems to be used creatively by application developers to create innovative, fun and fascinating maps apps for various groups to engage their audiences. On this long Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the United States, here are some of the latest Google Maps apps that are available for your perusal.

Charity at Thanksgiving

Across the United States, Thanksgiving was celebrated Nov. 22, as families and friends gathered for festive meals and holiday traditions. For many families, the holidays are also times of charity and giving to those less fortunate.

That's where the Pure Charity Google Map can help. Created by the folks at Pure Charity, a global charitable-giving platform, the map displays projects around the world where monetary contributions are needed to complete projects that will help enrich the lives of people in those communities, according to a post on the Google Maps Mania blog.

"Nonprofit organizations can submit their charitable projects to Pure Charity and potential donors can browse the accepted projects for charities they wish to support," wrote Keir Clarke on Google Maps Mania. "One way to browse the charitable projects is on the Pure Charity Google Map. The map highlights the nonprofit organizations supported by Pure Charity around the world. Users can click on the project map markers and learn more about each project, such as the project's aims, the amount of money needed to complete the project and how much money still needs to be raised."

Among the recent projects on the map are raising money for new windows and doors for a children's tuberculosis center in Moldova, a clean water project for children in Cambodia and a project to raise money for warm winter outerwear for homeless women in Columbus, Ohio.

On its Website, Pure Charity says its mission is "to inspire and encourage a movement of Generosity by providing a global platform where everyone can engage and make a difference in changing the world. Pure Charity pulls people together in a relaxed, engaging, social environment that enables members to turn their existing everyday activities and those of friends into funding that they then can give to the causes they are passionate about."

The group says it keeps only 5 percent on the money raised to use for its own administrative expenses.

Essentially, it's like a crowd-sourcing app for charities. The projects have a year to raise their goal amounts and when the monetary goal is reached, the money is sent to the groups by check, according to Pure Charity. If the goal is not reached, the money is returned to the accounts of its donors for use with another project.

Put a Personal Message on a Google Street View Image

Developers for the Japanese perfume designer Issey Miyake have built a unique app that allows anyone to leave a personal message for someone else on any of the millions of Google Street View images that wait in the search giant's photo archives. Whether it's a love note or a "hello" greeting or an "I miss you" message, users can add their personalized text to a gorgeous Street View image from around the world and share it with their friends using Facebook or Twitter.

"Please the World is a fun little application that allows anyone to type in a message and then to leave it on Google Maps Street View at any location," according to Google Maps Mania. "Once you have left your message, you can then go on a little balloon journey courtesy of Issey Miyake's Escape application. After you share your location with this app, you can view an animation of a balloon taking off from your home, with a little help of Google Maps satellite view, and then watch as it ascends through the clouds."

Find Out What's Going On Near You

When you need help discovering fun events going on around your community, be sure to check out the HUGE city app that brings up nearby Facebook events for you to discover anywhere around the world, according to Google Maps Mania. "If you center the map on any location, you can view all nearby Facebook events and filter the results by date, by the top rated, the most viewed and even the most attended."

In October, Google maps made their images even more useful by adding detailed and helpful information about topography, vegetation, terrain and land formations to its wide-ranging Google Maps collection to help users find the information they are seeking.

Google maps also recently added 25 million building footprint images to its map collection, giving users more information and details about structures they are trying to locate.

Earlier in October, Google updated the Street View images that can be seen in Google Maps along more than 250,000 miles of roads around the world, while also doubling the size of its Street View image collection overall. It was the largest one-time Street View image update ever by the company.

Those new image collections now include detailed photographs of places such as Catherine Palace and Ferapontov Monastery in Russia, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Taroko Gorge in Taiwan, Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada, and of Singapore's urban jungle, Fort Canning Park.