April 19, 2011

Google Map Maker Calls On Users to Edit Maps

Google Map Maker has finally found its way to the United States. The Web app that was launched in 2008 in 183 countries allows users to add and correct Google’s (News - Alert) maps, similar to a wiki, and now Google is calling upon the U.S. to pitch in.

With Map Maker, users have mapped entire cities that were previously never recorded online. According to Google, only 15 percent of the world’s population had detailed community maps before the debut of the Web app. Until now, maps were being made by amateur cartographers all over the world, but not in the States.

Google’s philosophy with the Map Maker is that people know their communities the best. Since most of America’s major infrastructure is already logged and readily available on Google Maps, most of the additions in Map Maker will just add detail and specificity to communities.

For instance, a user can add locations, say the Sonny’s Pizza, on the corner of Mill St. and Main St. Users can edit incorrect information about where things are actually located in their town. Google suggests that map makers in college towns provide detailed maps of campuses. The Map Maker can also be used to add small pathways like bike paths that might not be already included in Google Maps.

Users can submit changes or additions to the maps then, after a small in-house team at Google reviews each edit, the update is added to the maps. Once an edit is approved, all Google Map users will be able access the changes within minutes.

Calling upon the collective knowledge of users with expertise in particular topics is similar to the approach used to create Wikipedia. Although Wikipedia has published some embarrassing mistakes during its 10-year history, it has proven reliable enough to become one of the Internet's most frequented destinations.

“In addition to opening Map Maker for the United States, we’ve added some new features for users globally. You can now get a street-level perspective on places with Street View imagery directly in Map Maker, see and edit all points of interest, and find exactly what you’re looking for with advanced search options such as displaying all railroad tracks,” writes Google on its blog

Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell