Monday, 16 July 2007

Le Tour - Follow the Tour de France on the internet

With most of my day spent at uni finishing my dissertation, I've not been able to watch much Tour de France coverage on the TV. However, there are a great bunch of online tools by which you can follow every stage. It's a rest day today, so you won't be able to try these out until tomorow.

First up is the excellent Tour de France KML as posted recently on the Google Earth Blog. This allows you to view each of the tour stages in Google Earth - a real treat with the updated imagery for the Alps, allowing for an immersive 3D view of the alpine (and every other) stage. Frank Taylor (GE Blog) also posted a link to an excellent Google Maps Mashup showing the real time position of a variety of riders and team cars, as well as live information on riders heart-rate, power output and cadence.

In terms of actual race coverage, Eurosport has both the best live text and audio commentary. While the audio stream seems to suffer from over-subscription - at times it is completely unavailable - the live text updates and good graphics demonstrating the real time position of riders on the road and in relation to the stage elevation makes it a very useful tool. They also do live GPS tracking onto a map (a bit similiar to the google mashup, but not nearly as good).

Better yet is the Dutch National Broadcaster who are streaming their coverage of the tour over the internet. For a while the American broadcaster Versus was also streaming coverage, but it seems that they have been forced to close the stream for legal reasons (as reported on

Finally, I haven't yet mentioned the official tour website, in French, but which is also available in English, German and Spanish. Excellent coverage, in great detail, and full standings, stage overviews and anything else you could possibly want.

Hopefully this will make the internet experience of the cycling fan a bit easier. We still seem to be struggling a bit though - with English audio, tv pictures and commentary hard to come by. I apreciate this is due to the way 'internet' rights are marketed and sold, but it seems ridiculous that in 2007, there is only very limited choice in how we are able to watch the greatest race on earth. As far as I'm aware, nobody even offers pay per view coverage of the race. Any further suggestions, links and comments welcome.

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Sunday, 1 July 2007 - Estonian Agricultural Register and Information Board

I haven't blogged for a while - really busy writing up my dissertation. However, I did come across a pretty nifty use of GIS in Estonia. My dad has business interests over there, and he uses the GIS service to find out all sorts of things (click on the little map on the RHS). The Estonian Agricultural Register and Information board is the equivalent of a national land registry database, and it allows you to view a variety of data sets down to very fine detail. For instance, individuals land parcels can be viewed, and traced using measuring tools to identify distance or area (very useful for farmers to measure field sizes). Other data sets include the EU's Natura 2000, very high resolution aerial imagery and a raft of others that are listed in Estonian.

The GIS service can be accessed here and currently seems to be in Estonian only.