GIS users mix spatial data layers from an early age of GI science.

What is new in the concept of "mashup"?

Is it something really new, or only a trendy word?


3 Answers 3


Specifically a Mashup is taking data or functionality from different sources on the web and combining them within the browser to present to the user. It is more of a Web 2.0 term than a GIS specific one. It is often used to skirt round getting proper permission to use the data to create a derivative.


  • I agree that mashups are related to data 'on the web', but a huge majority of them do not combine spatial data: they simply display some geometries on top of google map.
    – julien
    Aug 6, 2010 at 11:43
  • the general way that I was using the term 'combine' was intended to include showing data overlayed on top of google maps, etc.
    – JamesRyan
    Aug 6, 2010 at 12:27
  • 1
    Who says it has to be "on the web" or "within the browser"? Does merging together disparate datasets in different ways in a desktop app not count as a mashup? Aug 23, 2010 at 17:12
  • 1
    The key part is that it is mixed on the fly for an end user. In an app you are generally processing it, exporting it together and then passing to an end user. If the app was a viewer that pulled from multiple sources and showed them together (to an end user) then perhaps.
    – JamesRyan
    Aug 24, 2010 at 9:46

On a GIS context, a mashup is the process of combining multiple sources of data into one integrated spatial display. Usually, it's about extracting spatial data from a non-spatial source and displaying it on a map.

One nice and classic example is Forbes US Demographic statistics mashup using Google maps. alt text
(source: nerdmodo.com)

Another (important!) example is missing children. One can iterate over a list of missing children, geocode it to get the coordinates of each case, and place each one on a map. This way, you can see all cases of missing children near a specific city. This can be useful, for example, for placing relevant ads in post offices and police stations.

See http://www.missingkidsmap.com/ for a live example.


A buzzword to give management something to annoy you with.


  • 7
    Man, I hate your answer but I love that you said 'Natch'. I'll just leave this alone and move along...+0 Aug 7, 2010 at 6:24

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