GO CHART OUT A MAP

USER-GEN­ER­ATED DATA IS CHANG­ING THE WAY MAPS ARE MADE. ARE YOU PART OF THE REV­O­LU­TION?

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - DIGITALLIFE - TEXT BY NANDAGOPAL RA­JAN PHOTO IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY VANITA ARORA

The In­ter­net to­day is all about you. It is the av­er­age user who is gen­er­at­ing the best con­tent for the Net—from movie re­views to stock pho­tos. So it is no sur­prise that this trend has plot­ted its way to cartography as well. Once con­sid­ered an ex­pen­sive propo­si­tion due to the sheer num­ber of man-hours needed to cre­ate the small­est of ge­o­graph­i­cal pic­tures, map mak­ing is now ben­e­fit­ing from the com­mon man’s urge—and en­thu­si­asm—to try make a dif­fer­ence to his community in one way or the other.

If you are also one of those who pulls out a phone when lost in the by­lanes of a city or the ru­ral wilder­ness, just re­mem­ber that the Google Maps that you trust so much owes a lot for its con­tent to peo­ple who think it is their duty to plot the lo­cal­ity they live in or mark the best eatery in town. Here is how you too can be­come part of this rev­o­lu­tion to cre­ate maps that go be-

yond well-known land­marks and util­i­ties.

WHAT

Google Map Maker was con­ceived in 2005 by Lalitesh Ka­tra­gadda, now Coun­try Head, In­dia Prod­ucts, Google. Since it went live in 2008, users around the world have been us­ing the free ser­vice to add and edit fea­tures on al­ready ex­ist­ing maps. While this might not be a big deal in an ur­ban sce­nario, Map Maker is lit­er­ally mak­ing a dif­fer­ence on the ground in ru­ral ar­eas where de­tailed map­ping have never been car­ried out. With peo­ple tak­ing it upon them­selves to map nat­u­ral fea­tures, places of in­ter­est and in­sti­tu­tions in these area, ru­ral maps are, all of a sud­den, be­com­ing fea­turerich and user friendly. In fact, user-gen­er­ated maps were a great help dur­ing re­lief op­er­a­tions af­ter the 2010 floods in Pak­istan.

WHERE

One look at the Pulse sec­tion (http://www.google.com/map­maker/pulse) of Google Map Maker and you re­alise the power of user-gen­er­ated con­tent. It up­dates al­most ev­ery sec­ond with a new lo­cal­ity or point that has been added to a map some­where across the globe. Map Maker now has ac­tive users in over 200 coun­tries, most of which did not have de­tailed maps till a cou­ple of years ago. In In­dia, says Ka­tra­gadda, the ac­tiv­ity is fol­low­ing the spread of broad­band. So all parts of the coun­try ex­cept the north-eastern states are record­ing thou­sands of up­dates ev­ery day. He hopes that the eastern states will also be mapped within a cou­ple of years. In­dia’s cities and towns, mean­while, have been fully mapped.

HOW

It is easy to be a part of this map-mak­ing rev­o­lu­tion. Just log in to Google Map Maker with your Google ID and look for lo­cal­i­ties and places about which you have good knowl­edge. If you think the map for that area can be bet­tered, go to Add New above the map. You can choose Add A Place if you just want to pin­point a build­ing or shop, etc. Se­lect Add A Shape if you want to de­mar­cate the bound­ary of a piece of land, say a part of school ground. To mark roads, tracks and rivers choose Draw A Line. Once you add some­thing to the map, key in the de­tails and click sub­mit. Map Maker takes some time to re­view the mark­ings. Reg­u­lar users, how­ever, en­joy more trust with the ser­vice and get to pub­lish al­most live with their up­dates show­ing on the map in un­der five min­utes. But to reach this level, you have to make nu­mer­ous posts, enough for the sys­tem to trust you and un­der­stand what you are good at. You will not be able to make changes in a part of the map which the soft­ware thinks al­ready has all the info re­quired. The same ap­plies for places of na­tional in­ter­est, mon­u­ments and land­marks which have been locked from fur­ther ed­its. As of now Map Maker can be ac­cess only through com­put­ers; there are no apps. Armed with this in­for­ma­tion, you can em­bark on your re­ward­ing jour­ney as a dig­i­tal map­maker.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.