In New Deal With Tele Atlas, Google Maps Sends Data Back

Google signed a five-year deal with Tele Atlas to keep getting the map data that helps power Google Maps. The deal extends to Google Earth and mobile apps, and covers 200 countries.

Google also gets map data from Navteq, which is being bought by Nokia for $8 billion. Tele Atlas is owned by Dutch GPS-maker TomTom.

Up until now, the deal between Google Maps and its data providers has been a one-way street. Google licenses the underlying map data that forms the basis for Google Maps. Once it’s up there, anyone on the Web can enhance the maps, correct faulty data, or add their own. But up until now, Tele Atlas did not benefit from those edits. As part of the new pact, Tele Atlas will have access to edits made by the Google Maps community to update the underlying maps. (The company already collects similar corrections from the Map Share feature in the 20 million TomTom GPS car navigation systems out there).

Once Nokia completes its acquisition of Navteq, it too will collect data from consumers to improve its maps. But it will tap into their cell phones.

It is almost a wiki approach to making better maps (presumably with more controls). How soon before other providers of real-world data catch on that sometimes the best source of data are the users themselves?