aprs.fi & Google Maps API

There has been an active dialog on the aprs.fi sig reference Google Maps API usage fees mentioned here:


Below is part of the dialog from Hessu:

I read about the new fees two weeks ago and immediately started to investigate how it would hit aprs.fi and what would be the options.


The charging is based on the amount of map loads. aprs.fi currently opens up the real-time map almost 42,000 times per day (when nothing special happens). According to the new Google Maps terms, up to 25,000 map loads per day is free, the rest will cost $4 per 1000 map loads. That amounts up to $68 per day, $2040 per month. No, I don’t make that much from the advertisements. And there are some other costs involved in running such a site too (computer hardware, hosting, domain names, beer, to name a few).

I can reduce the amount of map loads a little by reducing the amount of map reloads. For example, a callsign search could do the search within the page (AJAX style), without doing a reload of the web page. The downside is that bookmarking views using the web browser’s bookmarking method will become harder since the searched callsigns will not appear on the URL bar – I’ll have to add a new “bookmark this view” which will reload the view with the callsigns (or address) in the URL.

I have investigated the effects of AJAX map loading for about two weeks now. Some of you might have noticed the new &_s=something parameters in the URLs – those are used to collect statistics on which links and forms are clicked to generate the map loads, and which should be first converted to AJAX actions. Unfortunately I’ve found that AJAX map loading could not, in any way, get me below 25000 map loads per day – about 27000 loads come from direct map loads (user enters aprs.fi, or uses a bookmark to enter the site) or from external links from other sites to aprs.fi. And I wouldn’t like to convert all the regular text pages on aprs.fi to run on top of the real-time map. That would be ugly.

From the article:
The company has also indicated that they are willing to make special
accommodations for non-profit organizations on a case-by-case basis.

Hopefully aprs.fi qualifies.

I hope so. If someone here has been using aprs.fi in disaster relief / SAR, or other public service work, I would appreciate it if you could write some testimonials about your experiences in your blogs, or public service organisation’s web pages, so that I would have something to refer to. I’ve heard it was used during the tornado season in the US this summer, and according to emails on the APRSSIG, APRS was used a bit in Japan in the tsunami aftermath (so far I haven’t heard of aprs.fi being used specifically).

“Non-profits and applications deemed in the public interest (as determined by Google at its discretion) are not subject to these usage limits.”

– Hessu
So it will be interesting to see where this goes and how this will impact the site/service that we rely on every day (or almost every day).

Until next time….73s!


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