Making Google Map Maker more accessible and useful

Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Since launching Google Map Maker last June, we have heard a steady stream of users asking us to make the data created with it more available. We have recently pushed more Map Maker data on to Google Maps and Google Maps for mobile and now allow users to access the latest Map Maker tiles through the Maps API.

There are some cases, however, where this is not enough. For example, during last year's hurricane season when we opened Haiti and Cuba for editing, it would have been useful to combine Map Maker data with other data sets like flooding polygons derived from remote sensing to assess road conditions and populations affected. We've been approached by several organizations, including NGOs such as the UN's Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), scientists attending the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference, university students at Stanford, and our users on our community forum, all asking to get access to the raw data to support planning, analysis and other use cases that can not be easily supported through the Maps API.

To address those needs, we've announced recently in Kenya that we are now making Google Map Maker source data for Kenya available for download as kml and shp file. This download license is available for non-profits, government agencies, and individuals to create and enhance their own non-commercial map-related projects as long as attribution is given back to Map Maker. To download the data and see the full terms and conditions of this license, please see our download site.

The day after the launch we held a mapping party in the University of Nairobi that was well attended by a mix of amateur and expert mappers from a wide range of organizations. We met with people from Kenyan universities, local media, branches of the UN, branches of the Kenyan government, other NGOs, and are very excited to see in what ways they will use the new downloadable data so we can all collaborate on improving maps for Kenya, and the world.

Happy Mapping!