Google Releases More Map Crowdsourcing Tools

Points of Interest in Google EarthNearly a year ago, Googler Michael Jones spoke about the techniques Google used to get detailed map information in India. We’re not just talking about streets, but also points of interest such as tourist spots, businesses, hospitals, schools, etc. If you perform a search or turn on the “Places of Interest” layer folder items, you will see a wealth of information for many countries. The secret was to develop tools to enable local people to contribute their knowledge to help create the maps. Enabling lots of local people to provide their knowledge to gather data is a technique which has become known as “crowdsourcing”. This same technique was used in the recently released data for Kenya. Now, for the first time, Google has released to the public a big part of the map creation tools which they call Google Map Maker. This is a significant milestone in accelerating the availability of more map data for the parts of the world not fully mapped.
According to the announcement they are enabling the following countries for people to contribute data using Map Maker: Cyprus, Iceland, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Caribbean nations of: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago. Hopefully even more locations will be added in the coming months since there are still quite a few countries to go. But, this is a great start!
Google had already made available some tools to allow businesses to add more accurate and current data to business listings in Google Maps/Earth. Google Blogoscoped just today released a nice post telling you how to add or modify your business listing at Google. And, Google also enabled anyone to move markers for search results in Google Maps to place the markers more accurately (so, if the placemark returned for your house or favorite business is wrong – you can fix it yourself).
By the way, Google Earth is the best way to view the vast amount of local information Google has amassed. Open up the Places of Interest layer folder and look at the long list of available information (dining, lodging, transportation, etc.). This is the hidden treasure of information Google has made available to the masses. I really wish Google would improve the interface for layers so more people could discover this very useful information. (Read about Google Earth Layers).
See also discussion about the new Map Maker at Google Operating System, and Google Maps Mania.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. This is great stuff! We love the new additions Google is coming up with.

  2. It is official. Google now sees OpenStreetMap as a major threat to its mapping service. It recognises that locals are more likely to get their area mapped better than the professionals. As a OpenStreetMap editor myself, I know that the data being placed into OpenStreetMap is far higher quality than Google’s outsourced efforts.

  3. I’m rather puzzled by some of the reactions from the OpenStreetMap community. I don’t see why they should feel “threatened” because Google is using the same kind of logical approach to gathering data. Google has so far done this in places which do not already have road and POI data available for license (India and Kenya). And, they have opened it up for other countries in similar situations. As far as I know, none of these countries are places where OpenStreetMap is even working. Yes, Google has terms of service that protect the data. But, they actually have made substantial financial investments in their geographic data and services, and rather strong competitors. So, I don’t see that they have a choice at this point.

  4. Well I use Googles data for free, so it would be just fair if they use my (created) data for free.
    But on the other hand, I’m not allowed to use their data for any commercial application. But they want to be granted this right on my data.
    Also it is obvious and generally accepted that all the data we can get out of Google Earth / Maps is still Googles data. It is clearly marked as such.
    But the data I might add would also become googles data! Not beeing marked as produced by me. And I will not even be allowed to use my own data anytime in the future for any own projects, ’cause Google now holds the rights to it. There would even be no way of telling that this was my data except my own word to it.
    OpenStreetMap actually has the same problem to me. If I contribute data to them, I will no longer be able to use them in own projects not compatible with their license. Whereas there license sounds better to me than googles.
    Although technically challenging, it would be best to leave the rights to the creator. With him beeing able to withdraw it from google if he wants to.
    I’m still not convinced that this whole geo-data stuff will be free of charge forever.

  5. I notice that the Google Map Maker has streets for Livingstone, Zambia whereas they do not appear in Google maps.
    I guess we can now use Google Map Maker instead of Google maps when we need to travel in (or find out about) areas not yet mapped in Google Maps.

  6. PhilippeP says

    The problem with GMM is in the fine prints, when you participate, you loose your right to your data but you don’t use your liability , in case of trouble , it’s you that’s going to be in front of the judges …
    Chaos, the data you submit to OSM remains yours, you just give the right to everybody else to use it, modify it etc … and you still can use your data whereever you want …

  7. It is all about the number of countries that they can open up.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.