Google Maps Update Brings North Korea Into Focus
For a long time, one of the largest places on Google Maps with limited data has been North Korea. However, the company changed all that this month with the release of an updated survey of the country, which identified not only subway stations, roads and national monuments, but also the country's notorious labor camps. To build this map, Google tapped into its community of "citizen cartographers" through the Map Maker project to make their contributions such as adding road names and points of interest. Since 2008, Map Maker has enabled anyone with an interest in cartography to update the maps of the areas they know, and improve their level of detail and accuracy. Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, took a heavily publicized private trip to the totalitarian country in early January with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to get a peek inside the nation, its government and its people, although according to a Washington Post report, the trip and the map update were not connected. "We know this map is not perfect—one of the exciting things about maps is that the world is a constantly changing place. We encourage people from around the world to continue helping us improve the quality of these maps for everyone with Google Map Maker," Jayanth Mysore, the division's senior product manager, wrote on the company blog. "From this point forward, any further approved updates to the North Korean maps in Google Map Maker will also appear on Google Maps."