Archive for July, 2010

Display foursquare Data on Google Maps

July 18, 2010

Just a quick post — I’m stretched really thin working two summer camps simultaneously, but this was just too cool to pass up!

When they first start using Google Maps, most people want to make a “places I’ve been” map.  The Google Maps interface is clunky to say the least, and the requirement to place the pin in just the right place causes some to abandon this project early.  Even when you have a cheat sheet, it’s easy to get lost in the process.

Enter foursquare.  This is a social tool that lets you “check in” with your location-aware mobile phone when you visit a place.  Recently, Starbucks offered discounts to people who were the most frequent checker-inners at their nearby locations.  While I was explaining to a group of middle school students how to use $5,000 Trimble GPS systems to collect and plot geolocation data points in Google Earth this week it occurred to me that it should be possible to do the same thing with foursquare data on a Google Map.

I’m not the first person to make this discovery, but it was my own idea, I swear!

To access your foursquare location feed in Google-friendly KML format, click on History and then pick the orange RSS icon.  From there, copy the second link, labeled KML.  Pay attention to the bottom note about adding ?count=25 to the address you just copied to specify the maximum number of most recent points to pull.  This defaults to 25.  The easiest part of this whole process is on Google’s end.  Just go to and paste your KML URL right into the search box!  Finally, click the “Save to My Maps” link (which only appears if you’re signed into your Google account).

If I survive this middle school camp I promise to blog again soon!