Wait! What? MapQuest?

Programmable web has a timely post on what MapQuest has been doing.

MapQuest continues to add services to its developer network. Have they caught up with the geo-tools available from Google and Yahoo?

Most recently the mapping pioneer released a geocoding web service and static maps. In fact, many recent posts on its developer blog have included multiple announcements, testament to how much the company has been releasing.

Some cool new stuff for sure. My only issue is that I can’t find Legend City using its geocoder.

No Legend City in these parts....

No Legend City in these parts….

Google Maps Navigation for Android — But What About the Quality of the Map?

I guess I’m spatially aware so I never bother with navigation, but given how many TomTom devices I see on dashboards these days others are. Well Google has a little announcement this morning which is?not a huge surprise.

Today we’re excited to announce the next step for Google Maps for mobile:?Google Maps Navigation (Beta) for Android 2.0 devices.

This new feature comes with everything you’d expect to find in a GPS navigation system, like 3D views, turn-by-turn voice guidance and automatic rerouting. But unlike most navigation systems, Google Maps Navigation was built from the ground up to take advantage of your phone’s Internet connection.

And those words that every other company fears…

Like other Google Maps features, Navigation is free.

The Walmartization of technology continues. Why pay for anything if Google will eventually give it away free? Heck why invest any time working on anything since Google will just kill it later anyway. Verizon, welcome to the Google ecosystem. Don’t bother porting Verizon Navigator over to Android (though you probably already did and are wishing you didn’t about now)

Now there are two great limitations on this product. First it is only on Android which like the Microsoft Zune is irrelevant. Second it is only available in the USA which means that my friends around the world won’t be able to navigate to amusement parks that closed 25 years ago in their neighborhood.

So here comes Google ready to obliterate everything in its wake…

The Legend of Google Maps

I’m giving a talk later today at the Salt River Project on the future of geospatial technology and though why not show what Google has been up to with their mapping product. So I did what anyone would do, zoom into Google Maps and see how it looks. When I did so I saw something that made me do a double take:

As you can see, there is a lake with roads across the top. I know that there isn’t a lake there, but a parking lot and a building. Of course the Google Maps aerial confirms this.

So what the heck happened? How could Google put a lake in the middle of a desert? Enter Legend City. Before my time in AZ, there was a small amusement park in Tempe. It of course failed and SRP bought the land and put one of their buildings on it. The park closed in 1983 and I’m sure the lake dried up or was drained in weeks.

Map of Legend City – See the lake on the left side of the map?

Map of Legend City

So I know you are thinking the same thing I was. Let us take a look at the USGS Quad map for the area.

So there it is, Google Maps are no worse than 30 year old USGS Quad maps. What makes it even more fun is you can search Google for Legend City and get everything but a phone number.

Google best clean this stuff up. I’ve gone ahead and “reported” the problem so hopefully it will be removed here soon, but how can one build routing and other online apps on an API that has data which is so inconsistent? I guess it is up to the community to fix Google’s maps for them.

Microsoft looking at integrating Videos with Driving Directions

From the Microsoft Labs

So this looks interesting (the video dates from July so I’m wondering how I missed this before), but the practicality of it seems far-fetched. I guess I could look at them on my laptop/iPhone before driving the route, but looking down at a video while I’m driving seems dangerous. Plus how often would they update these? Would they have nighttime versions to help navigate when the sun is down (to me a city I’m not familiar with looks totally different at night)?

Oh and is this a preview of Microsoft’s Street View?

The Old Google Mind Trick…

Michael Jones’ “article” on Directions Magazine does a great job of pointing out all the great crowdsourcing projects Google has going.

I know that users are now better served with an easily correctable, rapidly updatable, widely usable base-map built from the synthesis of hundreds of data feeds, hundreds of thousands of individual contributors, and potentially, hundreds of millions of local-expert users. Think of it this way. If tomorrow every Web user in the USA took one minute to look at their neighborhood or workplace on Google Maps and make any necessary corrections, every Internet user would then have access to an up-to-the-minute national map for the first time in world history. This is how it always should have been and I’m glad that it has finally happened and excited about what the future holds.

Wait! Did he just describe OpenStreetMap? Sorry SteveC, sounds like your project is dead outside of Europe.

On another point, why does Google not want to just tell us where they got the data from? I suppose in the end, it just doesn’t really matter because everyone uses Google Maps for the Aerials, right?

These arent the basemaps you are looking for...

These aren’t the basemaps you are looking for.

Google Maps Now Uses Their Own Map Data

It looks like the new update to Google Maps gives us more than we thought. Sure the parks looks nice in a blog post, but if I’m reading the tea leaves right, Google is now using their own data in at least parts of the world.

So I think this means that what we all expected to happen, did. Tele Atlas is gone from the maps as far as I can tell and we now report our errors right back to Google.

Questions arise though… Where did Google get this info from? I’m guessing that it is USGS, MapMaker and probably some TIGER data. Plus they’ve also cut deals with local organizations to get vectors. The parcels, who knows… But if counties are giving it to Google and charging the public, we’ve got problems. Also do they have rights to republish the data in the first place (due diligence)? If I make corrections to their data, will they push those back to the organizations that donated the data or keep it themselves (and in turn own the data outright)?

Right now most of this looks visual as I can’t seem to access the parcels via their API. Only a matter of time I suppose.

Looks like Google is going to walk on over all data providers, open or not.