When we sat down with the Google Maps team a few months ago, we got an inside look at how Google makes its Maps product the best, most authoritative and reliable service in the world. Google says over 1 billion people use Maps each month.
The tools they use internally to build the maps that we see are a mix of Google’s own data and infrastructure, as well as data from other sources and updates from the community all passed through its internal Ground Truth initiative. At the time, I described the project as using Photoshop with layers but for mapping.
It’s really fun to watch someone work on it in person as they drag and drop links and connections to new roads and ‘shut down’ roads and routes that no longer exist. These changes can be made internally anywhere in the world, at any time, completely on the fly. That’s how Google Maps stays so accurate.
Today, the Maps team announced an update for 10 areas in Europe:
We’ve just released updated maps for 10 countries and regions in Europe: Andorra, Bulgaria, Estonia, Gibraltar, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
Today’s update is part of a project called Ground Truth that began in 2008. Through this initiative, we acquire high-quality map data from authoritative sources around the world and then apply a mix of advanced algorithms, supplemental data (including satellite, aerial and Street View imagery), and human input to create a map that corresponds as closely as possible to the real-world facts that you’d find if you were to visit that location.
It’s not just driving directions that are important for Google Maps users, it’s walking paths, bus and train lines, as well as in-depth campus views for students at colleges and universities. Google is also expanding to indoor mapping as well, so this infrastructure that it has built over the years will be applied to our surroundings in the future.
Our new map of Spain, for example, not only shows the famous Museo del Prado and Parque del Retiro in Madrid, but also includes additional building models in surrounding neighborhoods, the well-known “Estanque” (or pond) in the center of the park, and detailed walking paths throughout both the park and the nearby Royal Botanical Gardens.
Basically, we’ll never get lost again if it’s up to Google.
The nice thing about Google Maps is that it points out important monuments and buildings that you should visit when you travel, so it truly is universal.
Check out this quick infographic on how deep Google has gone with Maps:
This product has facilitated 1,120 trips around the Earth. That’s something. There are more areas of the world to go, but there are people working away right now in offices everywhere making sure that it happens. Also, you might be interested in knowing that many people have moved to Android just for its native navigation experience. If only there was an iOS native Google Maps app. Maybe one day.
[Photo credit: Flickr]