Have you ever come across an online map where you know the road/landscape has been changed or is completely different or sometimes even missing? Did you know you were able to do something about it? Google Map Maker is an application of Google maps where you can submit your revision, have it reviewed by Google, and then uploaded and changed, usually all within minutes.
Google’s ‘Map Maker’ application isn’t anything new to people outside the US. It has been used in other countries for years as a means for the locals to plot and upload data online of their areas. Unlike in the US, most other countries do not have companies who create the data and upload it online in order to license the information to companies like Google and Mapquest. So the task remained in the hands of the general public.
I know what a lot of you are thinking, “Why should I do the work of Google for them?” Probably also, “I can think of better ways to spend my time.” Besides, usually out of sight, out of mind. Once you realize the map is wrong, and you figure out by looking out your window or down the street to get your bearings in the real world, you are on your way again and thinking little about the small error in mapping.
But there are other aspects of the Map Maker application that are really very enticing and exciting, and (dare I say it), fun? The Map Maker tool is a great way to create more detailed maps of smaller areas of terrain that are completely missing from online maps currently. Your favorite trail, bike paths, park gazebo, or even your favorite hot-dog stand can all be uploaded and mapped for the whole world to see. It’s sort of like playing a reverse Sims game, only with real world items and locations. Plus, you can have the satisfaction of knowing you are the one that charted that territory for the world. I, personally, think that’s pretty cool.
What does this application hope to accomplish? I think the results we’re heading toward are going to be pretty remarkable. Imagine eventually having every single part of the world completely and accurately recreated online, down to the most remote detail. Shopping centers with completely accurate layouts inside that you can search from the comfort of your home. You can browse virtually through a local mall or street, “enter” a store where they could have the same layout as in the real world along with current items that are marked by current stock levels. It would make online shopping much more realistic and fun. Want to find the perfect spot for a secluded picnic? Search on Google Maps where they have that 5 acre plot of woods clearly labeled by some avid outdoors enthusiast.
All it takes is each person to label a portion of land and you literally have millions of highly detailed, highly localized areas stored in the database for everyone. Down the line we can add live pictures and footprints to the map, and once the platform hits mobile devices, the possibilities will be endless. It will take some time, but eventually the entire world will be recreated digitally online. And we are the pioneers that built that world for generations to come.