Google Map Maker

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Google Map Maker was Google's system for "crowdsourcing" geodata. It was a direct rival to OpenStreetMap in terms of competing for contributors and map editing contributions.

The difference was night and day, and yet many people fail to notice issues around the openness of their data. There is tendency instead to focus on the rendered view of the map, and other "downstream services". While we do have comparable downstream services (see Comparison Google services - OSM) OpenStreetMap is open in a much more fundamental level, and this is surely worth considering for anyone dedicating a lot of time towards contributing.

Leading the Pack

Licensing and ownership aside, many comparisons were drawn between OSM and Google Map Maker. Both projects are attempting to crowdsource geodata from scratch and particularly so in areas of the world hitherto undermapped or even unmapped.

At the time of Map Maker's launch OpenStreetMap was comparatively more developed and detailed virtually everywhere in the world with the exception of the United States.

Citing license concerns, Google decided not to use OpenStreetMap data and instead launched Map Maker as a rival. We believe that this is a mistake. Projects like OpenStreetMap that have a share-alike policy and open access to the data create a virtuous cycle.

Incompatible Licensing

Unlike OpenStreetMap, Map Maker was not licensed to provide access to the data. Google claims ownership of the aggregated dataset and user contributions could not be shared or used by anyone other than Google themselves.

Data from Google Map Maker was therefore incompatible with OpenStreetMap.

Developing countries

Initially Google launched Map Maker in a few developing countries and nations for which the large, commercial geodata companies do not have data. They treated India and Pakistan as a large testbed. They also pushed Google Map Maker to humanitarian aid organisations in areas where HOT – the Humanitarian OSM Team – are trying to persuade people to do it the OpenStreetMap way.

Google Map Maker shutdown 3/31/17

In November of 2016, Google announced that they would be shutting down Google Map Maker, mainly due to numerous changes as a result of a 2015 vandalism incident where Google was forced to shut down editing capabilities for quite some time. On March 31st, 2017, Google Map Maker shut down, being merged with Google Maps itself.

See also