Google Continues Crowdsourcing Its Map Data
Google has announced a new tool called Google Building Maker that lets you make 3D buildings using aerial photos and 3D shapes. Google says early testers felt it was more toy-like than tool-like and suggests that teachers might use it to help teach geography. And at this point you might be wondering … 3D buildings? […]
Google has announced a new tool called Google Building Maker that lets you make 3D buildings using aerial photos and 3D shapes. Google says early testers felt it was more toy-like than tool-like and suggests that teachers might use it to help teach geography.
And at this point you might be wondering … 3D buildings? Toys? Teaching geography? What does any of this have to do with search?
Well, it’s the latest move in Google’s recent efforts to crowdsource its mapping efforts — a cornerstone of local search. Google says it’ll review all 3D buildings that its user create, and “if a better model doesn’t already exist,” the user-generated buildings will be added to Google Earth. It’s not hard to imagine this eventually filtering down to Google Maps someday, too.
Google’s been crowdsourcing mapping data for some time now. In early 2007, the company held a contest inviting college students to map their campuses in 3D. Writing about it here on Search Engine Land, Chris Silver Smith hinted at what Google was doing:
It can be surmised that Google set up the contest in small part to draw college students into using the Sketchup tool and become familiar with it, but the bigger goal was likely to improve content for Google Earth in areas of significant value for which they didn’t have ready access to good or detailed data….
It seems even more commercially-applicable if they’d be using the content for increasing the worth of a primary focus area of theirs: maps and local search.
More recently, of course, Greg Sterling wrote about Google’s decision to ditch TeleAtlas as its map provider in the US, and “go it alone” for mapping data. We also wrote about a minor, but very revealing addition to Google Maps — the addition of a “report a problem” button that invites users to contact Google with needed map edits.
Add it all up and it’s clear that Google is dead-set on winning the maps race against MapQuest, and it wants you and me to help make it happen.