How many things can be tracked over the internet?
September 26, 2013 4:32 AM   Subscribe

In addition to the well known sites for tracking Planes and Ships I've recently discovered I can track SHARKS! What other things can be tracked on the internet? I'm specifically keen to see sites with a map of the world (or I suppose a more local region if that is appropriate) with all the things moving around in real time, but any aggregation of real world data would also be interesting.
posted by Just this guy, y'know to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 95 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Satellites!
posted by teraflop at 4:42 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can track shipping containers here. You can track packages in a lot of places. You can track air cargo. You can even (sorta) track pizza.
posted by paulsc at 4:43 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Things with an APRS beacon can be tracked on various sites like A lot of the beacons are in motor vehicles of ham radio folks or are stationary, but you could see the occassional aircraft (including VFR aircraft that generally don't show up on other tracking sites) or hobby balloon, etc.
posted by exogenous at 4:49 AM on September 26, 2013

While trying to find what paulsc meant to link to, I found the Live Ships Map, which tracks commercial shipping vessels. has links to most major container shipping companies that provide tracking, but I suspect in most cases you have to have an account and/or the ID of a container in transit.
posted by ardgedee at 5:09 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Okay so people beat me to the answers I was going to give (ships, planes, cargo, air freight), but! This is what my entire job is! I am in freight forwarding and I spend a LOT of time tracking things on the internet, and I still think it's super interesting. You probably already have a job and stuff but if you ever want to make a change you should check into freight/logistics!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:54 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Closer to Christmas, Santa.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:07 AM on September 26, 2013

Public transportation - Chapel Hill, NC example (requires Java)
posted by dukes909 at 6:24 AM on September 26, 2013

Best answer: Pirates! It's not live data, but a collation of reports of piratical activity from "suspicious vessel" all the way up to "attempted attack."
posted by Sunburnt at 6:24 AM on September 26, 2013

Similarly, Swiss trains!
posted by dukes909 at 6:35 AM on September 26, 2013

Earthquakes ? (aggregate)
posted by dukes909 at 6:41 AM on September 26, 2013

Real-time arrival time predictions for public buses is very common in the UK, both as mobile apps and websites. Edinburgh has the same information on display at bus stops in much of the city.
posted by epo at 6:43 AM on September 26, 2013

Plant disease
Air quality
DIY train monitoring
posted by zamboni at 6:50 AM on September 26, 2013

911 Calls
posted by dukes909 at 6:54 AM on September 26, 2013

Book purchases
Book Depository live
posted by MarvinJ at 7:49 AM on September 26, 2013

London Underground trains
posted by Joh at 8:05 AM on September 26, 2013

Best answer: How about wave swell heights?

I surf, so I track the SouthernCalifornia swells religiously, but just hitting play on the global map and you can track the movements of the ocean.

Pretty neat.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 8:09 AM on September 26, 2013

One bus away can track transit in real time near Seattle,NY and Atlanta. I know philly and boston have similar systems
posted by radsqd at 8:49 AM on September 26, 2013

The International Space Station
posted by CathyG at 11:38 AM on September 26, 2013

The Pierre Auger High Energy Cosmic Ray Observatory makes 1% of its captures available to the public. Fermilab has a nice live feed I wish I could find online. Regardless, you can see the layout of the observatory in the first link. Find an event in the second link and you'll see a similar shape as the layout. The dots and color of the dots indicate where in the layout a ray hit. They take all of those, as well as the timings, to figure out which way it was headed and where it came from. Centaurus A and supernovae have both been implicated.
posted by jwells at 11:56 AM on September 26, 2013

Influenza (roughly)
posted by lakeroon at 5:09 PM on September 26, 2013

The Internet Traffic Report monitors the flow of data worldwide by pinging a few dozen relatively important servers across the internet.
posted by pwnguin at 9:11 PM on September 26, 2013

Trains in the Netherlands.
posted by Marcc at 12:44 AM on September 27, 2013

Where's George
Euro bill tracker
posted by gakiko at 1:20 AM on September 27, 2013

Best answer: You can see wind, planes overhead, road traffic, more road traffic, internet downtime, cicadas, recent changes to Wikipedia by location, the continually changing prices of parking meters in San Francisco, Fall foliage in New England, etc.

You can even get a little meta and see edits to the Open Street Map.

You've asked this at a good time, as ArcGIS just this year announced a new real-time api for their software. Hopefully, in the near future we'll see more applications of real-time data because of this.

You can publish your own data in real time, if you'd like.

If you just like maps and don't need them to be realtime, Github just recently announced support for rendering maps from geoJSON and topoJSON files.
posted by cmchap at 11:37 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Germain trains, subway traffic in Berlin
posted by jfricke at 2:14 PM on September 28, 2013

Trains in Tokyo
posted by ardgedee at 9:26 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Real time status of Amtrak trains
posted by maggieb at 10:38 AM on October 15, 2013

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