Google marketing yesterday pushed out the story on Nanaimo being the "Best Known Google Earth Town," as one Google corporate blog named it.
The story is that all of the City of Nanaimo's mapping is run on Google, and some of it in real-time through the use of GPSs attached to city-owned vehicles. The silliest example is also the most prominent: no need to look around for where the fire engine is sounding its siren. Instead, just head indoors, start up your Windows computer, wait several minutes for it and the IE browser to launch, and find the location of the fire engine in real time on the Nanaimo city's Web site.
The real story is that Google has a success that affects traditional suppliers of GIS software: ESRI, Intergraph, Autodesk, and others. My home town uses Intergraph's mapping software, which is okay (even shows all the utilities running underground through my lot), but isn't particularly interactive.
The Google GIS may be more interactive, but the city of Nanaimo has made it restrictive. I was able to view the deep link that showed fire engine activity -- or lack of, since Nanaimo can't have its fire engines running all day around just to satisfy Google marketing's dreams. But when I attempted to view the maps from the top level of the Web site, it would not let me in, for my computer was not running the de-rigeur Microsoft browser.
Checking for required components:
Checking for MS Windows .................................ok
Checking for Internet Explorer 6.0+ ..................not present
It looks like you do not meet the minimum requirements to run City of Nanaimo CityMap. If you want to run the application, please install all necessary software.
It doesn't matter if Google Maps are designed to work with Opera and FireFox; city of Nanaimo staff cut out the 1/3 of the population that prefers a Web browser that isn't thrown in for free with the Windows operating system.
Well, at least my home town's online mapping is Web-browser-inclusive.