Correcting map data – placemarks

Back in July last year we wrote a Google Earth Blog FAQ to try and answer some of the most common questions we receive via email. One of the questions we answered was about making corrections to mapping data. This post is intended to be a more detailed look at how to get corrections made to mapping data. In this post we will look specifically at the placemarks and even more specifically the easiest ways to update placemarks. In later posts we will look at other ways to update placemarks and other types of mapping data such as roads, road names and addresses and borders.

The first thing to note is that the primary source of mapping data is Google Maps. This data is replicated from Google Maps to Google Earth somewhat infrequently. So, the first thing to do when you notice an error in a Google Earth placemark is to find it in Google Maps and check whether or not it has already been corrected in Maps. If it has been corrected then you don’t need to do anything further and it should get replicated to Google Earth at some point.

The first step in correcting placemark errors is to open Google Maps and either click on the placemark or search for it in the search bar. The place should then be opened in the side bar on the left as seen below:

  1. The placemark is incorrectly placed in the centre of a crossroads.
  2. Clicking on the placemark or searching for it in the search bar opens it in the side panel.
  3. Click “Suggest an edit” in the side panel.

We found that in some countries (Zambia, for example) the “Suggest an edit” link is not shown. We believe that this is because Zambia does not yet have a Regional Lead for the Google Map Maker program. We will discuss Map Maker more in a later post. If you do not see the “Suggest an edit” link in your area then there is not a lot you can do to correct map data at this time unless you are willing to put in a lot of effort and get involved in the Map Maker program.

When you click “Suggest an edit” you should now see the “Report a data problem” window as seen below.

There are three main types of errors you may wish to fix: a misplaced placemark, incorrect information about the place, or a placemark that shouldn’t be there at all, such as a business that has closed down or a duplicate placemark. The first step for all three types of corrections is

Misplaced placemark: Simply drag and drop the placemark to the correct location. You may also wish to update the address as well, which you can do by simply clicking on the address then typing in the correct address. When done, click submit.

Incorrect information: Simply click on the information you wish to update and fill in the correct information. When done, click submit.

Removing a placemark: Click the button at the top where it says “Place is permanently closed or doesn’t exist”. You will then be given the option to say whether it is permanently closed, doesn’t exist, spam, private, moved elsewhere or a duplicate. Select the appropriate option and click submit.

The actual updates are managed via Google Map Maker. For most edits this will require someone from the Map Maker community or a Google employee to review your edit before it is published, so expect a few days before your edits show on the map. It may take significantly longer for the edits to show in Google Earth, depending on the type of edit. Some information in Google Earth, such as what shows in the popups, is essential live Google Maps data, whereas the locations of placemarks is not live and may take a lot longer to update.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

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