April 19, 2011 at 11:42 AM ET
Google Maps already helps you get from point A to point B, but now Google Map Maker will allow users in the U.S. to edit those maps with more details, and to see what other users have added.
This is a tool now accessible in the U.S. that has been used in other parts of the world for awhile, where apparently, they don't have access to the kind of data for mapping as we have. Users can add new routes, or specific sites within a location, such as where the tennis courts are at a nearby park. Or, make corrections.
And Google being Google, they've made a tutorial about it:
Once inside the tool, you can pull up your location and browse to see what your neighbors have added. In mine, for instance, "community edits" have added to nearby 45th Street, mostly more business establishments. But every edit has to pass a review process before going live on Google Maps. As you can also tell, there is a street view photo in the lower right-hand corner, so you can also get a feel for what the place in question looks like (as you can already do with Google Maps).
TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid reported that "the feature has been used to generate maps for 183 countries and regions worldwide, and Google says that the number of people globally with access to detailed maps of their neighborhoods has jumped from 15 percent to 30 percent because of it."
In some parts of the world, such as DaLat, Vietnam, Map Maker has given local people a place in the digital sphere, where before they had barely anything. And for visitors who depend on their electronic maps, it can be a godsend in far flung places.
Kincaid also has ideas on what could develop within Google Map Maker, ideas that sound pretty good to us:
For now the feature is only available via the web interface, but it sounds like it will eventually make its way to mobile platforms as well (it would be easier to make submissions and corrections in the field).
Building interiors aren’t included as part of this release, but I suspect we’ll see these added down the line (imagine being able to navigate through a mall or office building). You can, however, add building footprints, including 3D versions of buildings.
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