aMap.toSome cool people I know have produced a cool tool for creating short map links for your email, Twitter, social networks and blogs. aMAP.to is a tool to guide people to destinations with travel-related information for their trips.

If you have ever gone through the process of trying to send to someone, successfully, a link to a Google map, you will know that the process is, putting it politely, a nuisance. The URLs are just so long!

This for, instance, is the Google map for where I live
Map, Island Drive, Tweed Heads
View Larger Map

This is the URL:

http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=-28.184858,153.544257&spn=0.038205,0.077248&z=14

I’m always concerned that, in transmitting a link like that, in an email or on a forum, it can get broken up and thus not work.

So up till now I’ve tended to use one of the standard URL shorteners, like TinyURL or SnipURL . So if I use, for example, TinyURL, that long URL comes out something like this: http://tinyurl.com/tweedhds

Which is ok, as far as it goes. But for the recipient it could be a link to any web page, not necessarily a map.

What if the shorter URL was more obviously a map link?

This is what the application aMAP.to provides.

aMap.toHow it works, basically, is that I go to the site, http://amap.to and enter the location I want. A Google map is produced and I can create a link, or links. For example, the long link above becomes, in the short version, http://amap.to/a3dqp I can also generate a longer link, more informative than either the source link from Google or the short version from aMAP.to, spelling out the street and street number, town/city, zip/post code, country. I can even create my own custom link (with a bit of extra code tacked on), such as http://amap.to/wheredeslives.._362g5

In the example here, it looks from the map as if I am living in or on the Tweed River. In fact, although I live on the shore of the Tweed River I don’t live on the river itself. Although there are some perfectly lovely houseboats nearby. Why it looks that way is that I’ve moved the red marker because I can’t show my exact address (long story, but it won’t show on Google) and if I put the marker closer to the house it comes up with a street number that’s not ours (and I don’t know who lives there).

Incidentally, the red marker impressed me, because I can’t see with the original Google map how to have a marker like that.

There is more to it than that. There is a huge amount of information loaded into the aMap.to tool, including over 140,000 hotels worldwide, some 200,000 Wikipedia pages with travel-related information.

For example, one of my favorite hotels, which I recommend whenever someone is looking for an excellent, not expensive hotel with free wifi, close to transport, clean, helpful staff etc etc, in New York City, is the Pod on E 51st St. In the past I’ve given people just the URL for the hotel. Now I can give them a customized map referenced URL with more information – and the map! Here it is: http://amap.to/podhotel_2m6mz (no liability, not responsible if you get a grumpy desk clerk etc etc etc).

aMap.to link to Pod Hotel, NYC

aMap.to is a project of Social Horizon, a development team based in Brisbane, Australia. They are seriously smart, creative and passionate about what they do.  And they’ve traveled a lot.

This is what they say about aMap.to:

We think that there is still a lot more that can be done to improve the way that people find and share travel information via the web and mobile devices. aMAP.to is the first of our tools that will help guide people to a destination, supported by travel related information that they may need to plan their journeys.

I like it. And not just because the people at Social Horizon are friends.

But they are nice people, with real smarts not just about tech things and worth talking to if you have a project you think they might be able to help with.

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).