Earlier this month Google announced that its Google Maps editing programme, Google Map Maker, is coming to the UK. Originally intended for countries with poor mapping such as Pakistan and some African nations, it was started in June 2008. It has now reached these shores with the hope that ‘citizen cartographers’ will edit the existing Google Map information to improve their accuracy and relevancy.
Launched at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes, the famous code-breaking Station X of Enigma and Colossus fame, Google explained their system’s features, some of which may be of use to adult businesses. The ability to highlight individual buildings and label them is expected to be a feature taken-up by many shop owners, especially as information such as addresses and postcodes, phone numbers, opening hours, web-links and email addresses can be included for commercial properties. Private residences are restricted to publicly available street names and house names or numbers, in the name of confidentiality.
Google’s Maps product manager, Jessica Pfund, explained at the launch that by using a peer-review system not unlike Wikipedia’s, any changes are screened by other users before being checked by a regional expert (a ‘high-trust-rating’ Google Map Maker user) and either approved – and made instantly available to millions of Google Maps users – or rejected. Further tweaks can be made over time and it’s hoped that by allowing users to have a greater input into their mapping – effectively making it more like open-source maps such as Mapnik – an active community will form in the UK and that this will lead to greatly improved usability and coverage.
With 30% of all Google searches having a ‘location element’ and 40% of searches from mobile devices being place-related too, it’s clear people are looking for businesses using their phones while out-and-about, benefiting ‘impulse purchase’ shops, as well as boosting restaurant and other sales to out-of-towners who don’t already know where their nearest Pizza Hut or adult store is.