I came recently across an amazing array of sites that provide a real-time or near real-time view of things happening around the world. I have picked my top ten favorites for my blog post today:
This service has been around for a few years but it continues to fascinate me. It provides a real-time view of the air traffic over pretty much any part of the world. I was once playing with this service on a flight UA902 from Frankfurt home to San Francisco using the on-board WiFi and I was able to locate my flight and see our position better than the screen in the seat in front of me:
Marine Traffic provides a very similar service as FlightRadar24 - but for ships. Of course, if we can track planes in the air, we should be able to do it for ships! Watching the ships passing by from the 18th floor of the Transamerica Pyramid while being able to identify them online is cool. Sadly, I never have time for something like this...
The US Geological Survey (USGS) web site provides a near real-time tracking of worldwide earthquakes. Living in California, I have this page bookmarked in my browser. Because when it shakes, you want to know...
LightningMaps.org provides a near real time view of the lightning strikes. Not much use in California where we never get any lighting but I've seen some amazing storms when I lived in Waterloo, ON! As I wrote this post, New Orleans was getting some action.
There are many great weather applications with real-time or near real-time weather maps. I particularly like Dark Sky on my iPhone with it’s down-to-the-minute precipitation forecast. This is a great app for a runner to check what to expect just before leaving the house or hotel!
Sailflow is one of the many real-time wind monitors, showing the wind speed and strength anywhere in the world. This is a great service for a [rusty] sailor like me! There are also services that show the near-real time data for ocean currents such as the NOAA site.
Digital Attack Map is a collaboration between Google Ideas group and Arbor Networks. It shows a nice visualization of all cyber attack by country. Kinda scary if you ask me!
GasBuddy provides a National Gas Price Heat map with the ability to drill down to see the current (or recent) gas prices at practically every gas station in your neighborhood. If you don’t mind a little detour, you can save some good money with this app:
Trendsmap Is another Google research project mapping in real time what’s trending on Twitter:
There are many, many other great visual tools tracking things in real time. I couldn't possibly show them all. But I thought my list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Waze, the ultimate real-time road traffic monitor based on crowd-sourced data:
Aren't all these tools amazing? I’m sure you know other examples of real-time monitoring services that I've missed. Please do share your favorites in the comments to this post!