Google Map Maker Makes Maps Fun
During the age of exploration, maps were made by everybody and included the information that each individual felt was the most important. Today, maps are created by a handful of professional cartographers and often reflect only geographic and political areas of significance, which is great unless you just want to know where the closest hand-tossed pizza restaurant in your neighborhood is. Now, Google Map Maker allows users to edit public maps to help fill in the blanks were the professionals left off. It is easy to do, and it is making a huge change in how useful online maps are.
How Does Google Map Maker Work
The Map Maker online software is similar to a wiki in that it is comprised of information contributed by millions of people. Now information about routes and points of interest can be updated by the locals that really know the area. Amateur cartographers can now submit information about where businesses are located and what routes are ideal for traveling between destinations. The beauty of this program is that it takes advantage of the unique and specialized knowledge people living in a particular geographic area have, which it takes the guess work out of satellite photos and computer generated analysis.
By creating an online interface, Google allows registered users to log in and make suggestions to maps. Suggestions can be used to clarify locations of businesses and addresses to help make the maps clearer and more usable. Users can also clarify accessibility like bike lanes, traffic obstacles and even which signal lights should be avoided during rush hour. With Google Map Maker, the mysteries of a local area unfold because it is a forum for people to share their detailed knowledge of specific geographic locations.
What Can Google Map Makers Add
Google has done an excellent job of keeping this opportunity open to a wide range of ideas. Map makers can contribute the content they feel is most vital to understanding a specific location. For example, local businesses can be clearly marked and identified. Street-view pictures of store fronts and locations can be uploaded. Even shortcut routes and more practical traffic patterns can be added. The Google Map Maker leaves the decisions about what is import up to those that would know best: the locals.
What About Misinformation
Every posting is reviewed by the staff at Google before it goes live to check for deliberate misinformation or unusable alterations. While opinions may vary on what the best route is or where the best burger joint is, the inclusion of those opinions is still vital to create an evenly represented understanding of a location. Once the information is checked it is added to Google Maps. The best part about Google Map Maker is that it is giving everyone the opportunity to improve the Google Maps’ usability, which is why they created this public opportunity for contribution.
Is Google Map Maker Available World Wide
Yes and no. Unfortunately, the people in every location in every part of the world do not yet have the opportunity to update their local maps but there are 190 countries that do. North America is wide open to the input of its residence, and Google’s information page says they are steadily making progress toward opening Map Maker to the rest of the world. For now, only those countries listed can participate but an online form allows residence of non-included locations to register for updates on when Map Maker will be available in their area.
Michelle Lidke writes full-time for education blogs nationwide. She writes for www.usc.edu where you can find out more about gis master.