Google Map Maker

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Google Map Maker
Google-Map Maker Logo.png
Google Map Maker Ísafjörður.png
Screenshot of the town of Ísafjörður, Iceland, in Google Map Maker
Web address
Type of site
Web mapping
Registration Yes
Available in Multilingual
Owner Google
Launched June 2008
Current status Partially active (See below for list of countries available)

Google Map Maker is a service launched by Google in June 2008,[1] designed to expand the breadth of the service currently offered by Google Maps. In some countries mapping data is unavailable usually[which?] because of government restrictions on distributing data, and so to fill this void Google has decided to open up Google Maps to a collaborative community effort in certain territories.[citation needed] The ultimate goal of the project is to acquire sufficient high-quality mapping data to be published and used on the existing Google Maps service. Google Map Maker is a separate service. Changes to Google Map Maker were intended to appear on Google Maps only after sufficient review by Google moderators but in May 2015 the service was suspended after deficiencies in the review process came to light.[2] Google reenabled the service in 6 countries in August 2015, with plans to enable in other countries in the following weeks.[3]


Users are able to draw features directly onto a map where the borders have already been drawn, and can add features such as roads, railways, rivers and so on. In addition, users can add specific buildings and services onto the map such as local businesses and services. At first glance the site appears identical to Google Maps, and the three views (map, satellite and hybrid) are available which allow users to view the map data, a satellite image of the region or a combination of both.

Using the find or browse tools, contributors are able to add to and edit existing features on the map. Three kinds of drawing tools are available: placemark (a single point of interest on the map), line (for drawing roads, railways, rivers, and the like) and polygon (for defining boundaries and borders, adding parks, lakes and other large features). The approach encouraged by users and by Google is to trace features such as roads from the existing satellite imagery. This approach is not useful in areas with poor satellite imagery, and users consequently create less map data in those areas.

New users' contributions are moderated by more experienced users or reviewers at Google to ensure quality and prevent vandalism. As users make more successful contributions, their edits are less closely monitored and may be published on the map straight away. Certain larger features may take a long time to appear on the map as they are waiting to be rendered by the server.

Contributors can assign areas of the map as their 'neighbourhood', that is an area they know well enough to make detailed contributions to. Users can also moderate the contributions of others within their neighbourhood. This Information is private; the neighbourhood a user selects is not publicly associated with the users' account.[4]

Map Maker Pulse[edit]

Map Maker Pulse is a page which shows the latest user edits live as they are updated. It comes with a basic pause/play feature for users to view edits as and when they happen.[4]


Map Maker requires contributors to grant Google a "... perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, distribute, and create derivative works of the User Submission".[5] While Google provides a form to request data downloads,[6] it provides no programmatic access to data. Thus large contributors to Map Maker, such as the World Bank's project partnering with Google have come under criticism.[7][8][9]


As of 24 August 2015, the service is available in Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela, and Vietnam.[10]

Vandalism and suspension[edit]

In April 2015, Google removed user-created Map Maker content that showed an "Android robot urinating on the Apple logo" and a separate feature saying "Google review policy is crap", after they were discovered on Google Maps.[11] Following the "large scale prank", Google disabled auto-approval and user moderation, and on 8 May, the Map Maker team announced that editing would be temporarily disabled worldwide from 12 May.[12]

On 10 August, editing was re-opened to Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, India, the Philippines, and Ukraine; Google will rely on regional moderators to review edits as an extra precaution, in addition to automated and human moderation.[13] On 26 August, Google Map Maker re-opened to 45 more countries.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Introducing Google Map Maker
  2. ^ "Google suspends Map Maker because of vandalism". BBC News. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Kanakarajan, Pavithra. "Map Maker will be enabled in six countries starting today". Google Product Forums. Alphabet Inc. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Google Map Maker". Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Terms of Service for Google Map Maker
  6. ^ "Map Maker Data Download". Google. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Fitzpatrick, Alex. "Google Maps & World Bank Join Forces, So Why Isn’t Everyone Smiling?". Mashable. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Maron, Mikel. "We Need to Stop Google's Exploitation of Open Communities". Brainoff. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  9. ^ Heller, Nathaniel. "Why We're Worried about Google's Deal with the World Bank". Global Integrity. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Countries being mapped". Map Maker Help. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Hern, Alex (24 April 2015). "Google Maps hides an image of the Android robot urinating on Apple". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Kanakarajan, Pavithra (8 May 2015). "Map Maker will be temporarily unavailable for editing starting May 12, 2015". Google Product Forums. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Sterling, Greg (10 August 2015). "Google Map Maker Back Up In Six Countries With More To Follow Soon". Search Engine Land. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  14. ^ Moscaritolo, Angela (August 26, 2015). "Google Map Maker Back in Action in U.S.". PC Magazine. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 

External links[edit]