Google Map Maker (stylized Google map maker) is a service launched by Google in June 2008, designed to expand the breadth of the service currently offered by Google Maps. In some countries mapping data is unavailable, and so to fill this void Google has decided to open up Google Maps to a collaborative community effort in certain territories. 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. Some contributions have begun to appear on Google Maps, but Google Map Maker is a separate service from Google Maps, and Maps does not necessarily adopt the changes made to Map Maker and may take a long time to adopt the ones that it does.
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. An individual’s neighbourhood is not visible to other users.