Google took additional measures to let users crowdsource its Google Maps application, allowing U.S. users to point out gaps in the search engine giant's Google Maps coverage. When users search and scan map results, they will see a "report a problem" link on the bottom right of a the map. Google Maps' Street View also got a shot in the arm this week, rolling out to cover Canada and the Czech Republic. Google also agreed to permanently blur images on its internal database within one year of their publication on Street View.
Google this week took additional steps to let users
crowdsource its Google Maps application, allowing
U.S. users to point out gaps in the search engine
giant's Google Maps coverage.
Now, when users search and scan map results, they will
see a "report a problem" link on the bottom right of a the map, or by
right-clicking on the map itself.
For example, if a new highway ramp opens up,
or construction is being done on a particular highway, users can alert Google
to those changes, helping the company keep its Maps results accurate, current,
and therefore, more relevant. See a video demo of this feature in action here
Andrew Lookingbill, Google software engineer, said Google
will sift through users' submissions of this data, corroborate it with other
users, sources and imagery, and make changes where they make sense. Google
hopes to resolve each edit within a month and will keep users apprised of its
editing process if they so choose.
This isn't the first time Google has enlisted the wisdom
of crowds for Google Maps. In August, Google rolled out
live reporting of
traffic conditions on back roads for some cities.
When people who have enabled Google Maps with My Location
on their smartphones use Google's traffic map tool, their
phones sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast they're
moving. Google compares travelers' speed across thousands of
phones moving around a city at any given time, and send it back to users in the
Google Maps traffic layers.
Google isn't just appealing to consumers for help mapping
the United States on the Web. The company this week created a new base map dataset leveraging
geospatial datasets from the USDA Forest Service and the US Geological Survey to
boost parks and water bodies. There are also more maps of college campuses, and
more maps of trails and paths for cyclists.
Google Maps' Street View, which provides providing 360??
horizontal and 290?? vertical street-level views of city streets, also got a shot in the arm
this week by rolling out
to cover Canada and the Czech Republic and offering
new high-resolution imagery across the U.S., and several special
destinations in Japan through the Street View Partner Program.
Street View, which is now available in 14 countries, is also
being rigorously amended by Google to meet citizens' privacy rights. In August,
a Street View tutorial to explain how it works to users, and how to go
about getting an image removed..
Earlier this week, Google moved to address concerns about
Street View from the European Union, which in June asked Google to give advance
notice to the public before collecting images and to jettison un-blurred images
used to create Street View.
Google, which blurs faces and license plates before
publishing them on Street View, agreed to permanently blur images on its
internal database within one year of their publication on Street View. This
means that Google will only keep the blurred version.
"We think one year strikes a reasonable balance
between protecting people's privacy and our ability to reduce mistakes in
blurring, as well as use the data we have collected to build better maps
Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy