Google merges online and offline worlds in Maps | Mana Blog... for all
Aug 9, 2012

Google merges online and offline worlds in Maps
Google on Wednesday took another step in its quest to merge the Internet with the real world with Maps and put itself at the heart of mobile gadget lifestyles in the process.

The California technology titan added Poland and the Ukraine to the list of more than 200 countries and regions where people can correct, update, or enhanceGoogle Maps with local insights or expertise.

"Google has been about searching the online world, but most people live in the offline world, the physical world," Google Earth and Maps vice president Brian McClendon told AFP.

"We want to be able to provide a map wherever you are going; a way to have the best answers for what is within walking distance and transmit them in a fast, interactive way."

Google began tapping into collective knowledge for cartography in 2008 with the launch of a Map Makertool in India, where details regarding streets in cities was meager to non-existent.

"There were some places in the world where, even in big cities, the map was essentially a blank canvass," said Map Maker product manager James Kelly. "We have taken the tool from just adding roads to adding all kinds of features like speed limits and suitability for bicycles," he continued. "We also made it possible to add businesses and other points of interest."

The tool allows people to update Google Maps to show local features ranging from bicycle paths and foot trails to parking lots or playgrounds. Verified or trusted editing changes go live in minutes and spread across the more than 800,000 websites that embed Google Maps.

"We started Map Maker for the developing world and have been ramping it up," McClendon said. "We definitely want Map Maker to reach everyone in the world."

A global community of thousands of volunteer mappers review and approve each others edits. When needed, additional data used to corroborate suggested edits include satellite imagery, public feedback, and information collected by Street View vehicles that capture pictures to provide views of locations in maps.

Politically set borders can't be edited.

Having the preferred online mapping service is seen as a key strategic asset for Google as people rely increasingly on smartphones or tablet computers for directions, restaurant recommendations and other information on the go. Position-sensing features in smartphones present opportunities to advertise local shops or events.

McClendon believed that how well mapping software helps people find what they seek in the real world is so important it could be a reason to choose one smartphone over another, perhaps an Android handset instead of an iPhone.

0 comments: