Google Map Maker Returns

You may recall that Google took down Map Maker blaming it on algorithms.

Certain offensive search terms were triggering unexpected maps results, typically because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place. This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for.

Well Google has apparently figured out a plan to allow people to start editing the Google map data.

Map Maker will be reopened for editing in early August, and we’re looking for users to now have more influence over the outcome of edits in their specific countries. This means that edits on Map Maker will be increasingly made open for moderation by the community. While some edits will still require moderation by Google operators, our loyal users will recognize that this is a departure from how we have operated in the past where majority of your edits were reviewed by Google operators. This has been a request you’ve made for a very long time, and this change should, hopefully, come as good news.

Community editing, who knew? Google will be “selecting” mappers around the world to be “Regional Leads” on Map Maker. I’m not sure why anyone would want this title but I guess we’ll see soon enough what it entails. Edits have to be moderated before they are published to the map so the quick updates that happened before (and of course happen with OSM) won’t work for Google. I think though considering how things went last time, any change is good for Google.

Google Maps Engine API Goes V1

It’s hard to believe that Google Maps is over 9 years old. I think back to how online mapping was done before it came and it was an ugly cruel world. The fact that I used MapObjects IMS to actually create applications tells you everything you need to know how bad things were. But as great as Google Maps was, it wasn’t always easy to get your data into it to create your own maps. That was Esri’s “thing”. Google Maps Engine has been around for a couple years but the API just went V1.

Today we’re launching the Maps Engine API v1.0: you can now do any CRUD operation on Maps Engine data via the API. The API is fully covered by our service level agreement (SLA) and deprecation policy. There is also a great set of new tutorials and documentation to help get you started.

Heck, even Safe FME supports Google Maps Engine for data upload. Putting your data on Google’s cloud. Google Maps Engine is sort of the Google My Maps for 2014 with it’s free tier. I’ve been playing around a bit with Google Maps Data Layer but I have to be honest just putting this data into Google Maps Engine itself sounds pretty good as well. You can expect a lot of playing Google Maps Engine from me this fall.

Prior Art

I’m trying to remember if there has ever been such a tool1.  Google’s patent is for “Updating map data using satellite imagery”:

Map data are overlaid on satellite imagery. A road segment within the map data is identified, and the satellite imagery indicates that the road segment is at a different geographic position than a geographic position indicated by the map data. The endpoints of the road segment in the map data are aligned with the corresponding positions of the endpoints in the satellite imagery. A road template is applied at an endpoint of the road segment in the satellite imagery, and the angle of the road template that matches the angle of the road segment indicated by the satellite imagery is determined by optimizing a cost function. The road template is iteratively shifted along the road segment in the satellite imagery. The geographic position of the road segment within the map data is updated responsive to the positions and angles of the road template.

Now before you get your pitchforks lets look at exactly what Google is proposing here.  This is a computer automated process and not one that most GIS people have ever done.  Read the claims section to learn more about what exactly this process is.  It is interesting that they use TIGER as an example of a dataset that could be improved.

Or…

They could simply donate their map updates to OSM.  Right my bad, TIGER is a great example of a dataset that doesn’t line up with satellite imagery.

  1. No sarcasm