Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 30th, 2011 at 1:19 pm
Google will be in town Thursday for a “MapUp” event to raise are awareness of (and participation in) their Google Map Maker feature.
Map Maker is Google’s attempt to let anyone edit its vaunted map and have the additions go public to its millions of users. The application lets people add in their favorite short-cuts, places, favorite bike routes, and so on. Since people on bikes tend to interact more intimately with their surroundings and rely on shortcuts and safe route suggestions more than other road users, mapping technology like this can be very useful.
Alexis Grant, a Portland resident who works in Wilsonville, has already started contributing to Google Maps with the Map Maker feature. “I’d submitted a couple of issues to Google previously, and found that to be a slow process… When they popped up the option to edit directly I thought that was a real improvement.”
Edits by Map Maker users go through a review process initially, but once someone makes several successful edits, they’ll go live immediately. “It’s a great way to correct errors and add detail to maps,” says Grant.
Grant adds that, because she experiences the city primarily on foot and by bike, she hopes her additions make Google Maps more accurate for others who do the same.
Another map application that uses crowd-sourced data is OpenStreetMap (Elly Blue included them in a profile of online mapping tools back in 2009). OSM is open-source and is owned by the people who contribute to it, unlike Google Maps, which is a private entity. Grant says she has mixed feelings about adding to a privately-owned data source, but that in the end it’s “more beneficial to me to update the mapping system I use all the time.”
If you want to get the skinny on Google Map Maker and meet the people behind it (and Google Places), join them for the “MapUp” event this Thursday night (9/1) at the Ecotrust Building (721 NW 9th Ave) from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. They’ll even be giving away a Google Chrome netbook! Registration is required, so go here to let them know you’re coming.