Google Expanding Map Maker Services to Greece, Croatia, Other Nations

Google Map Maker lets residents and visitors add valuable local details to Google Maps so they can be constantly improved.

Google's Map Maker services, which allow local residents and visitors to add pertinent local details and flavor to Google Maps to make them even more accurate, is now being expanded to Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The wider coverage of southern and eastern Europe was announced by Nicole Drobeck, the Map Maker community manager, in a Feb. 19 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.

"Whether you add a biking route through Tallinn or a landmark in Vilnius, each improvement to the map will help locals and tourists alike better understand the area and discover new things to do," wrote Drobeck. "Once approved, your contributions will appear on Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Maps for mobile."

That's the idea behind the Map Maker services, which help turn formerly static paper maps into "living, breathing representations of our world," she wrote. "Places around us are constantly changing—while mountains don't move, roads are rerouted, homes are built, shops open and close. And oftentimes the best way to keep Google Maps fresh and up to date is by allowing anyone, anywhere with an Internet connection to contribute to the map using their knowledge of the areas they know best."

Participants can begin working in a community map by adding the outlines of local shops, restaurants and other businesses, wrote Drobeck. "Then help enrich the maps of national parks, or add leisure facilities and historic landmarks. If you enjoy the great outdoors, try adding campsites, beautiful beaches or your favorite cycling paths."

To get started, prospective participants can visit the Google Map Maker community forum and the service's Help Center for tips and tricks, she wrote. They can even watch mapping in real time with Map Maker Pulse, she added.

Google has been regularly adding to the countries where Map Maker is available for use.

In September 2013, Google Map Maker expanded for the first time to residents in Italy, Bulgaria, San Marino and Vatican City to allow more local color, flavor and details to be added to Google Maps in those nations.

In April 2013, Map Maker expanded to England for the first time.

Google Map Maker, which launched in 2008, rolled out in the United States in April 2011, allowing citizens to add cartographic details about locations and businesses around the country. The service is now available for more than 200 countries and regions, according to Google.

Google Map Maker is available in more than 59 languages, including Bulgarian, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Swahili.

In January 2013, Google Maps began receiving contributions from "citizen cartographers" in North Korea to improve the detail of Google Maps in that nation, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The map data provided details of many little seen areas in that nation through the help of the volunteers. North Korea had long been one of the largest places with little map data, according to Google.

And though the maps of North Korea are improved, they still don't equal the detail and quality of maps from other nations where the flow of information is not controlled by the government. An older Google map of the North Korean city of Pyongyang was very stark, with only the name of the city superimposed over a spot on the map. The newly updated version isn't completely detailed, but now includes several roadways that stretch through the area as well as the names of several nearby cities.