As an online free mapping service, Google Maps is a great product. But it’s lacking in certain parts of the world. And rather than pay people to go get information about those places, Google has smartly been using a service called Map Maker, which lets locals and people knowledgeable about the area edit it themselves. And this week, Google has added a couple important areas to the list: Mexico and Eastern Europe.
“These two launches have doubled the number of users who can map their country on Map Maker,” Google notes today. That’s impressive, but even more impressive is the full list of countries that can now use Map Maker to improve local maps. And while Map Maker doesn’t work in places like the U.S. and other well mapped-out areas of the world, you can edit things on U.S. maps such as place locations. It seems clear that Google Maps is a wiki of sorts now, meaning the community is responsible for a lot of the data on it.
Now, Google still looks over this new country data, and then allows certain portions to “graduate” to actual Google Maps. But still, it’s a great idea to get more information in your system for free. I wonder how long it will be until Google lets users in the rest of the world in on the fun to edit roads and other features that are incorrect or not listed? Maybe you’ll be able to put in information when you know a road is under construction for a set period of time, for example. That data is out there for large projects, but it would be very useful on a day to day basis for small jobs when I’m trying to get somewhere on time.
Below find an impressive before and after picture of Lahore, Pakistan, after Google Map Maker did its thing.
Update: Google has reached out to me with another piece of information about the Map Maker initiative. Earlier this week, they announced that the Map Maker data set in Africa would be available for non-profits and NGOs to download to further promote mapping the areas. More information on that is here.