Google warns that rate limits, overage fees are coming to Maps API

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Bob Poortinga

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Oct 27, 2011, 11:20:25 AM10/27/11
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Hessu, have you seen this? How is this going to effect APRS>FI?

<http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2011/10/google-warns-that-rate-limits-overage-fees-are-coming-to-maps-api.ars>

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Bob Poortinga  K9SQL
Bloomington, IN  US

Jan L. Peterson

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Oct 27, 2011, 1:51:08 PM10/27/11
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On 10/27/2011 09:20 AM, Bob Poortinga wrote:
> Hessu, have you seen this? How is this going to effect APRS>FI?
> <http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2011/10/google-warns-that-rate-limits-overage-fees-are-coming-to-maps-api.ars>

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.

-jan- (KD7ZWV)
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Jan L. Peterson
http://www.peterson-tech.com/~jlp/

Tom Hayward

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Oct 27, 2011, 5:33:21 PM10/27/11
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On Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 11:51, Jan L. Peterson <jan.l.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 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.
>
>        -jan- (KD7ZWV)

I'm not sure how aprs.fi could qualify as non-profit, seeing as it has
advertising.

Tom KD7LXL

Heikki Hannikainen

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Oct 27, 2011, 5:37:38 PM10/27/11
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On Thu, 27 Oct 2011, Jan L. Peterson wrote:

> On 10/27/2011 09:20 AM, Bob Poortinga wrote:
>> Hessu, have you seen this? How is this going to effect APRS>FI?
>> <http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2011/10/google-warns-that-rate-limits-overage-fees-are-coming-to-maps-api.ars>

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.

(http://code.google.com/apis/maps/faq.html#usagelimits)

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

Lynn W Deffenbaugh (Mr)

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Oct 27, 2011, 6:22:35 PM10/27/11
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You could always change the default to OpenStreetMaps, and never
remember the last used map type, but always come up OSM. I'm guessing
that some viewers will switch to Google, but most would probably
(hopefully) just keep what came up.

Lynn (D) - KJ4ERJ - Author of APRSISCE for Windows Mobile and Win32

> loads per day � about 27000 loads come from direct map loads (user

Heikki Hannikainen

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Oct 27, 2011, 6:25:51 PM10/27/11
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Before the ideas to go forward start to be thrown around, I'd like to
share a few bad ideas I've had so far.

1) Going commercial and getting the Premier license. It's starting cost is
$10000/year, but that only includes tracking of 800 assets (800 cars,
ships or whatever). aprs.fi is currently tracking some 300 000 assets
(http://aprs.fi/stats/monthly), and that would cost a "a bit" more. If
aprs.fi would be closed only for paying users, a Premier license would be
required. Most users would not pay, and I couldn't risk paying $10000 up
front and then wonder whether the users will come back and pay.

2) Reducing amount of visitors by keeping aprs.fi open only during office
hours (monday to friday, 8 AM to 4 PM, Finnish local time). (Idea stolen
from a well-known Finnish web service, Korsoraattori. Also, the Finnish
railway's online web ticket store is not open during the night...
honestly, this is not a joke! :)

3) "Slot machine mode", or "The One-Armed Bandit": Site will be open each
day until the free 25000 map loads are used up, at which point it'll close
down and show a demotivating photo of some sort (my working title for the
display is "Game over."). Then, some user needs to make a paypal donation
to buy everyone some more map loads to keep the site up for the rest of
the day. One user could donate $4 and it would stay open for 1000 map
loads (about 35 minutes on average). Some other user could donate $70 and
it'd be open for a couple days. Variations can be designed for week- or
month-long windows instead of a daily restart of the game! This is my
current favourite approach.

Ok, enough joking...

Switching to OpenStreetMaps would be one option, but that'd mean loosing
Street View, Google's satellite and aerial imagery, the Terrain view,
Traffic and Bicycle overlays, and Google's very good address search, and
some other nice features like pretty good coverage in the Finnish
countryside where OSM doesn't yet shine. Not to mention that "Switching"
is not the correct word - it would require me to rewrite a lot of code to
get things running again, as the real-time map is very much written around
the good Google Maps Javascript v3 API (no matter where the actual map
images come from). The API code takes care of all sorts of stuff like
placing symbols on the map at the correct coordinates, drawing lines
between dots, drag-and-drop features, and so on. Maybe a week of full-time
coding (assuming I wouldn't be doing a day job), I'm not sure. More if I
did it during the evenings.

For the time being I'll just hope that Google will change their mind and
adjust the pricing to match the Google advertisement income (and hopefully
leave me some margin on top). Currently it's just too expensive. Or maybe
they will see aprs.fi as being "in the public interest".

Apparently they are still adjusting the Terms Of Service document. Two
weeks ago it clearly said that the fees would only be charged from
"commercial web sites". Now the FAQ doesn't make any difference between
commercial and non-commercial sites any more. There was a recent post
by a google employee confirming this difference on one of the google's
discussion groups, and this blog post from the summer also mentions the
charges to only affect commercial sites.

http://googlegeodevelopers.blogspot.com/2011/04/updates-to-google-maps-apigoogle-earth.html

Since the current FAQ and terms do not have this distinction, removing
google ads from the site does not help any more.

- Hessu


Heikki Hannikainen

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Oct 27, 2011, 6:29:23 PM10/27/11
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On Thu, 27 Oct 2011, Lynn W Deffenbaugh (Mr) wrote:

> You could always change the default to OpenStreetMaps, and never remember the
> last used map type, but always come up OSM. I'm guessing that some viewers
> will switch to Google, but most would probably (hopefully) just keep what
> came up.

They charge from the use of the Maps API even if the actual map tiles
would be OSM (equal to the user selecting OSM from the map type menu).

So I'd have to rewrite the real-time map application code to not use the
Maps API (switch to openlayers or the OSM API instead), and that'd take a
lot of time and reduce the possibilities of using Google Maps API's
features. Even the "select map type" drop-down menu is a feature of the
API. It's much more than just the map graphics tiles.

- Hessu

Joe

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Oct 27, 2011, 6:00:49 PM10/27/11
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Looks like Google is now looking at ways to pay for the costs of 'Street
View' in its maps.

Well..if you have to start charging a usage fee, that's ok by me.
Naturally, free is always better...

Maybe playing the Ham Radio card, and all the good we do, and the lives
saved by using APRS.FI to track an injured individual or downed hang
glider..Amateur radio *IS* non-profit...or the usage by schools and
universities in their upper atmosphere experimentation, using APRS to track
their balloons, etc.

Joe Wolfe
WA6RKN
Reno, Nevada

Jan L. Peterson

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Oct 27, 2011, 5:54:55 PM10/27/11
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On 10/27/2011 03:33 PM, Tom Hayward wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 11:51, Jan L. Peterson <jan.l.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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'm not sure how aprs.fi could qualify as non-profit, seeing as it has
> advertising.

Just because something makes money, that doesn't mean it can't qualify
as a non-profit. aprs.fi certainly has operating expenses that would
consume that advertising income. I wouldn't be surprised if it more
than consumes the income and Hessu funds the overage himself. Now, as
to if it would qualify as a 501(c), I don't know, but since it's in
Finland, US laws and regs should not apply. I'm sure Finland has their
own regulations.

Regardless, Hessu should talk to Google and see what kind of arrangement
can be made.

Peter VERNON

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Oct 27, 2011, 7:22:44 PM10/27/11
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Hessu….

 

Here’s an idea, you can work out it’s good / bad state.

 

Could you ‘geographically disperse‘ aprs.fi? For instance if the host requesting a page is in Australia it would be redirected to a server in Australia and while this of itself won’t fix the issue if it is supported by a local club / organisation they would have their own API key counting on their usage not your.

 

Clearly there are issues relating to copy write on code and such but it may allow for continued growth in usage with the possible cost of api access.

 

Just a though.

 

Regards & 73’s

Peter J VERNON | VK2US

 

 

 

 

 

E VK...@jbo.com.au | W www.vk2us.id.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: apr...@googlegroups.com [mailto:apr...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Heikki Hannikainen
Sent:
Friday, 28 October 2011 09:26
To: apr...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [aprsfi] Google warns that rate limits, overage fees are coming to Maps API

 

 

Before the ideas to go forward start to be thrown around, I'd like to

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Heikki Hannikainen

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Oct 28, 2011, 1:26:14 AM10/28/11
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On Fri, 28 Oct 2011, Peter VERNON wrote:

> Could you ‘geographically disperse‘ aprs.fi? For instance if the host
> requesting a page is in Australia it would be redirected to a server in
> Australia and while this of itself won’t fix the issue if it is supported
> by a local club / organisation they would have their own API key counting
> on their usage not your.

Yes, I considered something like that (forgot to add it to the list). To
keep the sites up and running I'd probably have to technically maintain
them myself (install upgrades etc). Also, I'd have to automatically bounce
users from aprs.fi to those sites to balance the load. If they were
completely independent sites, it would be a pain for the users: different
user accounts, possibly slightly different data, incompatible links. If
they were somehow connected (common user accounts and database primary
keys so that the links to stations would keep synchronized), or if I'd
anyhow be running or supporting them, it could be easily argued that I'm
just trying to get around the wording of the TOS and that they're still
the same site, just serving multiple domain names from multiple locations.

I already have had multiple domain names in use, and running from multiple
locations is a common thing to do for a single busy site, to increase
speed and availability.

- Hessu

Arnie Shore

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Oct 28, 2011, 1:47:44 AM10/28/11
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Hessu, I understand the work going into a conversion - believe me, I'm looking at converting our application in order to get out from under their TOU - but what's your thoughts re a conversion to OSM/OL?

AS

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Kai Gunter Brandt

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Oct 28, 2011, 2:55:15 AM10/28/11
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OSM and/or using WMS servers? OSM is a good alternative or fallback.
WMS servers in some countries are providing access to quite good maps
they also have limits but then the limits are pr. user IP.

There is a WMS for euope but it's not good at street level. The
Norwegian Map Authority have very detailed maps.
Not sure how good other countries are on sharing their WMS so then
it's probably not worth the extra job programming the possibility for
the users to enter a WMS URL in their settings.

LA3QMA

Heikki Hannikainen

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Oct 28, 2011, 5:58:44 AM10/28/11
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On Fri, 28 Oct 2011, Arnie Shore wrote:

> Hessu, I understand the work going into a conversion - believe me, I'm looking at
> converting our application in order to get out from under their TOU - but what's your
> thoughts re a conversion to OSM/OL?

I guess I'll have to try it, but it means a lot of work and loosing some
features. Here's a cut and paste from my previous email last night:

Switching to OpenStreetMaps would be one option, but that'd mean loosing
Street View, Google's satellite and aerial imagery, the Terrain view,
Traffic and Bicycle overlays, and Google's very good address search, and
some other nice features like pretty good coverage in the Finnish
countryside where OSM doesn't yet shine. Not to mention that "Switching"
is not the correct word - it would require me to rewrite a lot of code to
get things running again, as the real-time map is very much written around
the good Google Maps Javascript v3 API (no matter where the actual map
images come from).

The Google Maps v3 API has also been optimized heavily for speed and
compatibility with mobile devices. I'm not quite sure OpenLayers matches
it in regards to speed, mobile device and browser compatibility, or
features. The only way to really find out is to try it out.

- Hessu

Lynn W Deffenbaugh (Mr)

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Oct 31, 2011, 10:34:22 AM10/31/11
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On 10/27/2011 6:25 PM, Heikki Hannikainen wrote:

Switching to OpenStreetMaps would be one option, but that'd mean loosing Street View, Google's satellite and aerial imagery, the Terrain view, Traffic and Bicycle overlays, and Google's very good address search, and some other nice features like pretty good coverage in the Finnish countryside where OSM doesn't yet shine. Not to mention that "Switching" is not the correct word - it would require me to rewrite a lot of code to get things running again, as the real-time map is very much written around the good Google Maps Javascript v3 API (no matter where the actual map images come from). The API code takes care of all sorts of stuff like placing symbols on the map at the correct coordinates, drawing lines between dots, drag-and-drop features, and so on. Maybe a week of full-time coding (assuming I wouldn't be doing a day job), I'm not sure. More if I did it during the evenings.

And it might not gain you anything.  aprs.fi probably has more than 500 viewers per day and APRSISCE/32 just got a "bad boy" (my terms, not their's) notice from the OSM Tile server folks.  Apparently my app is in the top 20 map tile consumers and they'd appreciate it if I made "other arrangements" over the next month so as to eliminate the load on their tile servers.



Apparently they are still adjusting the Terms Of Service document. Two weeks ago it clearly said that the fees would only be charged from "commercial web sites". Now the FAQ doesn't make any difference between commercial and non-commercial sites any more. There was a recent post by a google employee confirming this difference on one of the google's discussion groups, and this blog post from the summer also mentions the charges to only affect commercial sites.

Yep, the following is the OSM Tile server usage term (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tile_usage_policy) added on 10-Oct-2011:

Heavy use (e.g. distributing an app that uses tiles from openstreetmap.org) is forbidden without prior permission from the System Administrators. See below for alternatives.

Apparently lots of apps are flocking AWAY from google and OSM's tile servers are taking the brunt of the move.

Heikki Hannikainen

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Nov 6, 2011, 5:54:14 AM11/6/11
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Several hams working for Google have contacted me and supported aprs.fi's
case as an "in public interest" service. One of them has already been in
contact with the relevant people within the Maps team, and it seems highly
likely that aprs.fi will be whitelisted and get a larger free map loads
quota once the enforcement infrastructure is published.

I've also received several good testimonials about aprs.fi and APRS use
in SAR and other public service work. Those will be useful in making sure
the above happens.

I think we can stop worrying now.

Thank you, guys at Google, your help is invaluable!

Also, thank you, everyone who expressed their support, and especially
those who sent in testimonials.

- Hessu

Haydn Lyall

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Mar 7, 2012, 1:21:13 PM3/7/12
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HI Just seen these posts, 
Do you still need SAR teams to write in about there use? 
If so i will willing write how we use your great web site and google maps to help save lives on land and at sea, 

Let me know

Haydn

Arnie Shore

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Mar 7, 2012, 2:50:38 PM3/7/12
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Ummm, re " ... help save lives ... "

We all know the reality of that, but Google is rather specific re NOT
using it in such situations - or at least they used to be. Otherwise
they cd be in harm's way litigation-wise.

Some care in the justification language wd be well advised here, guys.

A

Heikki Hannikainen

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Mar 7, 2012, 2:53:06 PM3/7/12
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On Wed, 7 Mar 2012, Haydn Lyall wrote:

> HI Just seen these posts, Do you still need SAR teams to write in about there use? 

Thanks to you, and everyone who already wrote. It's been sorted already -
Google has promised aprs.fi a larger free quota to support the volunteer
activities of the ham community.

- Hessu

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