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Google crowdsources maps directions, too

The company is leaning more on individual cartography contributions: Map Maker now lets people test and correct driving directions for user-added roads.

A few months after the debut of Google Map Maker, which lets people add roads to uncharted areas of Google Maps, Google is letting people add directions, too.

"Today with our newly launched feature on Google Map Maker, you can get driving directions in regions where this was not previously available...In the spirit of Map Maker, you can correct the directions as appropriate," said programmer Vinay Chitlangia and user experience designer Sree Unnikrishnan in a blog post Tuesday. "Our hope is that with this deep editing ability, we will be able to ensure the most up-to-date and reliable maps ever."

With the service, people can edit details of intersections such as street names and what types of turns are permitted. Google also offers a guide to using directions on Google Map Maker.

The service helps with debugging Google Maps, too. "Finding directions is a great way to fix roads on the map that are broken, incomplete, or not connected well. For example, directions are incomplete for Devanahlli to Bommavara in Bangalore, India. This is because the road connecting Bommavara to a nearby main road is not drawn on the map," the Google employees said.

Crowdsourcing, in which people on the Internet collectively produce significant amounts of content or work often through small individual contributions, is a much-hyped concept, but it can be powerful when it works. Google also is using crowdsourcing for adding geotagged images to Google Maps' Street View.

Google Map Maker lets people edit maps in 160 countries, including exotic destinations such as South Georgia Island, the South Sandwich Islands, Svalbard, and the Pitcairn Islands, but also large countries including Paraguay, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Venezuela, and Iceland.

Google Map Maker now lets people view and edit directions.
Google Map Maker now lets people view and edit directions. Google