CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Google's Ground Truth mapping

Google spends a lot of time correcting data it receives, through a project called Ground Truth. Here, the left side shows the original data from the U.S. census program. At right is Google's corrected version.

The essence of the Ground Truth project is marrying Google's real-world information with data sets from sources such as cities, census operations, and postal address databases. "You can conflate those two together and correct one with the other," says Michael Weiss-Malik, engineering director for Google's Ground Truth and Map Maker.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
1
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

In Atlas, yellow routes indicate the direction a car is entering an intersection. Green routes are permissible, and red routes are prohibited.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
2
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

The Atlas tool lets Google Maps staffers hover over the map and see a fisheye-lens view of a particular point on a road. The bubble shows images taken with Street View.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
3
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

With its Atlas tool, Google Maps staff can zoom into a Street View look at an intersection with Google's own graphical overlay of traffic restrictions.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
4
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

In Google's Ground Truth project, trained operators use Google's internal Atlas software to map out a virtual version of the world. The software can show real-world signs for reference purposes.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
5
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

Ground Truth combines geographic data with Google's own data to try to figure out what's actually happening in the real world.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
6
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

Newer Ground Truth work involves mapping interiors such as the San Francisco Airport -- including routes through them. Buildings have triple the information density as roads, posing more processing challenges for Google.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
7
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

Google's mapping tools recognize features in the real world such as street markings, traffic signs, and company logos.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
8
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

The Google Maps team reviews complaints of inaccuracies from users with the Atlas tool. In this case, the problem is with a road that's under construction.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
9
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

Ground Truth now is up and running in 43 countries. Once it's launched, Google must maintain the data, because maps go out of date constantly.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
10
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

Another example of Google cleaning up and annotating inaccurate original data.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
11
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

Part of the Ground Truth effort is correcting bad geographic data from sources such as governments. In cases where the data set is correct but distorted or shifted, Google can mathematically translate geographic items to new locations.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
12
of 13

Google's Ground Truth mapping

Google Maps employees carefully align road routes with satellite imagery using the Atlas software.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
13
of 13
Up Next

10 Chrome extensions that can save you hundreds of dollars