Maps, SpatialKey

Announcing SpatialKey – Geographic Information Without Limits

SpatialKey LogoToday I’m proud to announce the launch of SpatialKey, the geospatial information visualization product I’ve been working on with our fantastic team at Universal Mind. I’ll make a bold statement that I stick by: this is the best web-based mapping product in existence. Today we’re releasing a “technology preview” that gives you a little glimpse at what we’ve been working on (just to whet your appetite until we release the full product).

Quick links
Before I explain what SpatialKey is I wanted to give a few quick links because I know a lot of you are going to have your ADD act up before you read the rest of the post.

  • SpatialKey Gallery – lists a few dataset/template pairs that we think tell great stories. Read the descriptions of the datasets and then launch the app to play with the data yourself.
  • screenshot067.jpg
    San Antonio Prostitution hotspots

    San Antonio Prostitution Crimes – This link will jump you straight into exploring the prostitution crimes in San Antonio from Jan 2006 – July 2007. Check out how clearly the heatmap points out the corners that are the hotspots in the city.

  • Growth of Walmart – This link will load the Walmart dataset into a playback template that lets you click play and watch Walmart take over America.

Beyond points on a map

Overwhelmed with markers

We’ve been seeing the same tired approach to web-based mapping for years now. Everyone throws markers on a map. You want to track crime? Throw a bunch of markers on a map. Little pin markers work fine if you’re showing a few data points. Want to see the location of Starbucks within a 3 block radius of your house? Use markers. But what if you want to see the total sales of all Starbucks worldwide? Or all crimes for the past 10 years? For the whole country?

SpatialKey uses some of the most advanced visualization renderings for geospatial data that have ever been seen on the web. The focus here is on aggregate renderings: heatmaps, thematic grids, graduated circles. 1,000 markers all piled on top of each other doesn’t help anyone. What you want to see is density or sum total value. SpatialKey focuses on rendering aggregate data in meaningful ways. We can show you a heatmap of the entire country and let you visualize any number of data fields. You want to see the heatmap represent total sales of all stores in the region? No problem. You want to see average house price over the past 10 years? We can do that.

Heat Map Heat Grid
SpatialKey Heat Maps SpatialKey Heat Grids

We haven’t seen innovative technology in this industry since Google let you drag the map. (I actually vividly remember that moment when I first dragged a Google map and my mouth started to water). It’s time to move beyond points on a map.

Your data doesn’t have limits
Try adding 10,000 data points to a Google Map. I dare you. What happens? If you’re using the “My Maps” feature of Google Maps, you’re limited to only show 200 points at a time, then you have to page through your data. And to top it all off you’re limited to a whopping total of 1,000 data points in the entire data set. So you get to page through 5 pages of data and only see 1/10th of your total data set anyway. If you create your own application with the Google Maps AJAX API you’re going to have serious performance problems when you get up into a few hundred markers. We think that’s ridiculous.

SpatialKey breaks through the limits of previous mapping technology in two ways. First, we’re simply faster. Flash can process and render data far faster than JavaScript. We can render 10,000 data points in a matter of milliseconds. You simply can’t do that with any JavaScript API out there. Second, we’re smarter. We aggregate data to produce heatmaps instead of just trying to overlay markers one on top of the other. Fundamentally, a massive dataset is an information visualization problem, not a technical one. You need better renderings to convey massive amounts of data, and that’s what SpatialKey delivers.

This is just the beginning
This is a technology preview. That basically means we’re showing you some cool stuff, but we’ve got way more up our sleeve. We’re looking for feedback on what we’ve got, and we’re hoping to get you excited about what we’ll be rolling out. We’ll be releasing new versions of SpatialKey Personal that will let you easily import your own data (if you’ve got an Excel file with addresses you can drop it right in). We’re also going to be releasing SpatialKey Enterprise, which lets you load a data set of any size (millions and millions of points). And then we’ve got a third product that we’re launching called SpatialKey Law Enforcement Dashboard, which is an enterprise version of SpatialKey specifically targeted toward police departments (includes special law enforcement reporting templates). And in the meantime we’ll be rolling out some more example datasets for you to play with, so keep an eye on the SpatialKey blog.

So go check out the SpatialKey Gallery and play with some data. We’re looking for feedback during this phase, so if you have any suggestions or (god forbid!) you run across bugs, please let us know by emailing


27 thoughts on “Announcing SpatialKey – Geographic Information Without Limits

  1. Congrats on your public Launch!

    It must feel good to finally show the world what you have been working on for the last 6 months.

    Looks like I see a little Degrafa poking through the surface here in there ! 🙂

    – Tom

  2. Your appliation doesnt load with Flash PLayer 10, I hope you are not doing isFlashVersion == 9 or something like that because that would be crazy.

  3. @Raul -There are known issues with two very specific version of Flash Player 10 on the Mac. The players that we know have problems are and on the Mac (Windows version seem to be fine in our tests). Unfortunately we don’t have a solution to this, since the latest version of Player 10 that’s in the prerelease program actually works fine (but you can only download it if you’re in the prerelease for flash player). We think that early versions of the beta 2 release of Player 10 introduced a bug with RSL loading that crashes the app. So we check for those particular versions and we try to redirect to our known issues page.

    Sorry for the issue, trust me, we wish we had it working with every player version. And we know that a lot of the people who are checking our stuff out are probably already running player 10.

  4. Matt says:

    Really nice job on this application. It is so nice to see large, well built, rich enterprise applications like this that aren’t covered up by 2 feet of NDAs. The Flex community needs more applications like this to show what the framework is truly capable of. Congrats on the start of an amazing product.

  5. Josh McDonald says:

    Looks awesome, Doug, congrats! *this* is why iPhone needs Flash, and Javascript just isn’t going to cut it any time soon.

  6. Pingback: SpatialKey Technology Preview | Cyril Hanquez

  7. Pretty sweet Doug,

    Couple of things. One, would love seeing some smooth animation on zoom in and out. And I disagree with your no innovation in mapping statement. While Google’s allowing you to move the map was nifty. It was not the mapping feature I was waiting for. The one that I considered the most innovative, actually more so just a no-brainer – was drag to adjust the route.

    That said, I like your cloud heat maps. I am curious, will you be offering any of this as a component, licensing, or incorporation into other apps.

    Might have some interest come winter.


    The Saj a.k.a. “The Dark Lord of the SWF”

  8. Grammar Nazi says:

    Grammar note: looks like there’s an error on the site. The word “it’s” only ever means “it is” or “it has” and never ever in a million years refers to the possessive. For example: “San Antonio releases it’s own crime statistics” really says “San Antonio releases it is own crime statistics”. This should be “San Antonio releases its own crime statistics”.

    Or “How is SpatialKey different from it’s competitors?” really says “How is SpatialKey different from it is competitors?”. Think like a programmer, Doug! Burn into your brain that “it’s” can only mean “it is” or “it has”. If you want to refer to the possessive, there’s no apostrophe. It’s just “its”.

  9. Doug,

    Great application. And although I know you can not give away any code from this application, I’m still going to ask the following;

    Can you give us any hints (code-wise, or otherwise) on how the data-display-effect is done? (I mean the cold/heat spots of course). I’d like to use something similar for something completely different (a photo album) and non-commercial.

    A Frequent Reader 😉

  10. @Michael – yeah, you’ve got a part of the secret sauce. Now figure out how to do that with 10,000 latitudes and longitudes on a map. And once you’ve got that part figured out try doing it with about a million points 🙂 And then do it fast. I’m diggin your work though, I hope you keep going with that, seeing as how I can’t post code 😛 It’ll make us all better

    @Grammar Nazi – as Brandon already pointed out, I do the code, I don’t write the content. So if there’s some grammatical typo I can blame someone else… if you find a bug in the software then come bitch at me.

  11. Dan says:

    Not going to lie Doug, the Wal-Mart app alone blew my mind. Definitely looking into this more. Keep on rocking

  12. I like the 3D Temporal Heat Index view. That was unexpected and cool.

    Nice job on the app Doug. Now UM can start charging all the municipalities a butt-load of money for this shit…After all, Doug McCune doesn’t come cheap and he needs some coin to keep making more signature shirts.

  13. Doug, this is fantastic work. I agree whole heartedly that the Flash platform has a big advantage at overlaying rich interactive content over a map. I disagree that there has not been innovation in this space since google’s introduction of maps in 2005. Just ask Zach Graves at Yahoo!

  14. Dear GrammarNazi:

    Many people make typos. Doug is a very intellectual person and I have no doubt that he learned the difference between “it’s” and “its” in fourth grade like the rest of us. It’s easy to make typos when you write a lot – especially if you’re excited about something. As you may know, when you read something over many, many times, it’s easy to glance over a simple typo because you have everything memorized.

    Wouldn’t it be more polite to point out a typo instead of assuming that the person has a limited grasp of elementary grammar concepts?

    Maybe you’re a friend of Doug’s – who knows. Maybe the post is an inside joke. But if it’s not, I just want to give my two cents. Being a writer and having to edit myself constantly – I know how something simple can be overlooked. I also know that we should never underestimate the intelligence of others and little mistakes in life should be overlooked.

    Sorry to get off topic! Going to play with some visualizations now! Thanks for these great tools!

  15. Eduardo Nunes says:

    Hi Doug:

    I wounder if you could tell me if there is a way one can upload for example “.wmv” files straight into flex instead of “.flv” files.



  16. Pingback: » SpatialKey: insanely good geovisualization

Comments are closed.