Google seeks SA cartographers
Google is hoping South Africans will help it to map the country with a greater level of detail by contributing local knowledge to its Maps service. By Craig Wilson.
Google has launched its Map Maker service in SA. It allows users to add locations and information to Google Maps via a peer-reviewed process. The crowd-sourcing of information from local users will provide Google and its users with extensive, localised information and bolster its mapping services.
The service has been available since early June, with SA joining more than 190 countries and regions where Map Maker is available. The official SA launch on Wednesday coincides with the launch of its live traffic service.
The live traffic service works by crowd-sourcing information about speed and travelling time from users of Google Navigation and Google Maps for mobile phones.
The company says Map Maker is meant to improve the quality of map data worldwide while providing users with access to local knowledge. Map Maker contributions have already been integrated into Google Maps and Google Earth in more than 150 countries.
Brett StClair, Google SA’s head of mobile, says the service will be particularly useful for SA drivers in terms of mapping road closures, new roads and one-way streets that may not previously have been marked in Maps.
Some of the information users can add includes mapping trails, buildings, boundaries, buildings and landmarks as well as other points of interest. Users can also add contact information for local stores or businesses. In the case of existing data, users are prompted to check that the information they are adding isn’t duplicating existing data.
Users can also add information like the location of an entrance or parking lot to either a newly created location or an existing link. To prevent erroneous information making its way into the service, Google has employed a community review process whereby users have to approve each other’s work.
The review process takes account of the integrity of the reviewer based on the quality of their own submissions and the reviews of them. It asks users to judge the quality and accuracy of submitted data and to rank their level of certainty about it.
Google is encouraging SA businesses to list their locations via Google Places, where they can check existing information Google has about their business and add location information to it.
Google Maps arrived in SA in October 2009, with Google Street View following in June 2010. – (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media