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Google Maps adds significant update to U.S. map datasets

October 8, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka


Google Maps adds significant update to U.S. map datasets

Google Maps has performed a rather large update to its map system in the United States. Utilizing data from transit agencies, the USDA Forest Service, US Geological Survey, and two years worth of user data/suggestion for moving markers and adding locations, Google was able to create a new set of maps for use in the US. Combined with images pulled from satellite, aerial, and Street View, the new map system has provided a significant update to map information.

New features include:

  • More accurate information on roadways and bodies of water
  • Campus maps for some colleges and universities. Stanford University has an amazing map that every freshman will probably use once they arrive on campus
  • Increased map data available to cyclist in search of “trails and paths to explore.” Google plans to add cycling directions for suggested routes soon.
  • More support for user input. Google – and virtually every other map maker – often has issues with listing outdated information for points of interests, roads, new subdivisions, construction changes, etc. The “Edit” or “Report Problem” options are designed to let users provide Google with tips/suggestions that can lead to more relevant and accurate maps.

Google Maps previously licensed its map data from TeleAtlas, and even signed a five-year deal in 2008 to continue that arrangement. However, U.S. maps show a copyright message attributed to Google Maps rather than the TeleAtlas notice seen in other countries. I see TeleAtlas credited when I search for Emirates Stadium in London, UK, but not when I search for Dolphin Stadium in Miami, USA.

I strongly believe (read: don’t quote me) that these changes are already appearing when searching from an Android phone. I am able to see the detailed map of Stanford University Google mentioned. I’m also convinced map data was updated because my brother’s subdivision — which didn’t even show up on Maps as recently as 3 weeks ago — is suddenly appearing (however it doesn’t reflect the homes recently constructed).

Google Maps also added Street View to certain Canadian cities. Click here to read more.