Screenshot of the town of Ísafjörður, Iceland in Google Map Maker
|Type of site||web mapping|
|Current status||Partially active (See below for list of countries available)|
Google Map Maker (stylized Google map maker) is a service launched by Google in June 2008, designed to expand the breadth of the service currently offered by Google Maps. In some countries mapping data is unavailable, and so to fill this void Google has decided to open up Google Maps to a collaborative community effort in certain territories. The ultimate goal of the project is to acquire sufficient high-quality mapping data to be published and used on the existing Google Maps service. Some contributions have begun to appear on Google Maps, but Google Map Maker is a separate service from Google Maps, and Maps does not necessarily adopt the changes made to Map Maker and may take a long time to adopt the ones that it does.
Users are able to draw features directly onto a map where the borders have already been drawn, and can add features such as roads, railways, rivers and so on. In addition, users can add specific buildings and services onto the map such as local businesses and services. At first glance the site appears identical to Google Maps, and the three views (map, satellite and hybrid) are available which allow users to view the map data, a satellite image of the region or a combination of both.
Using the find or browse tools, contributors are able to add to and edit existing features on the map. Three kinds of drawing tools are available: placemark (a single point of interest on the map), line (for drawing roads, railways, rivers, and the like) and polygon (for defining boundaries and borders, adding parks, lakes and other large features). The approach encouraged by users and by Google is to trace features such as roads from the existing satellite imagery. This approach is not useful in areas with poor satellite imagery, and users consequently create less map data in those areas.
New users’ contributions are moderated by more experienced users or reviewers at Google to ensure quality and prevent vandalism. As users make more successful contributions, their edits are less closely monitored and may be published on the map straight away. Certain larger features may take a long time to appear on the map as they are waiting to be rendered by the server.
Contributors can assign areas of the map as their ‘neighbourhood’, that is an area they know well enough to make detailed contributions to. Users can also moderate the contributions of others within their neighbourhood. An individual’s neighbourhood is not visible to other users.
Map Maker Pulse is a page which shows the latest user edits live as they are updated. It comes with a basic pause/play feature for users to view edits as and when they happen.
Map Maker has a user community consisting of over 25,000 people who share and collaborate on improving the maps. The announcement of the latest features and discussions of various issues of the product happens here. The updates are also shared by Map Maker on the verified Twitter page. The Google LatLong blog is the official blog of map maker.
Unlike OpenStreetMap, a similar project that allows for collaborative map-making and licenses data under the ODbL license, Map Maker requires contributors to grant Google a "... perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, distribute, and create derivative works of the User Submission". While Google provides a form to request data downloads, it provides no programmatic access to data. Thus large contributors to map maker, such as the World Bank's project partnering with Google have come under criticism.
Another disadvantage over OpenStreetMap is the peer-review method as a condition for committing the spatial data to servers. In third-world countries (which seems to be the target segment of countries for which Map Maker was implemented), maps are not acquired easily by the locals for 'security' reasons. This places an unusual peer-pressure on the contributors who think they maybe persecuted. Moreover, if they put it through anyways, they're faced by other local 'peers' who may be too ignorant (as intended by their states) of the geography and therefore deny the additions of proper contents. For, example, Wadi Elrayan lakes in Egypt are wrongly annotated "Al Fayyum Lake" on Google Maps, and several requests to change it by locals has been denied.
|This section requires expansion. (April 2013)|
Currently the service is enabled for the following territories, although users can contribute regardless of their geographic location:
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