Featured Map Maker: Mihai

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 10:10 AM


Name: Mihai Voiculescu (Cartograful)
Day job: Web programmer at itbox.ro

Region mapped: Romania

Until last month, Romania wasn't on Google Maps. Users started a Facebook Cause and a Twitter Petition to get Google's attention on adding Romania to the map. "I found out about Map Maker opening in Romania over Twitter -- I follow Google Maps on Twitter," says Mihai Voiculescu. Mihai is now the #1 mapper in Romania with more than 5,000 map edits made since Google Map Maker opened in Romania in August, and as of last month many of those edits are now live in Google Maps for the world to see.

Like many mappers, Mihai started by mapping his hometown -- Târgu Jiu, the city in the southwest of Romania where sculptor Constantin Brancusi lived and where several of his large works of sculpture have become tourist attractions. From there, Mihai went on to help map Bucureşti (Bucharest) -- the video below shows how the map of Bucharest grew quickly from 5 highways to a complete city over a two week period:



Mihai runs a Romanian travel web site (itbox.ro) that uses the Google Maps API, and says that having a detailed and accurate map of Romania on Google Maps is important for local tourism. "Many people who came to Romania asked me why Romania isn't on Google. People think that Romania is empty, like a desert. Having Romania on Google Maps is a big plus." Mihai also uses Panoramio and has had some of his photos published in Google Earth; "I love the Web, programming and travel," he says.

Normally, Google Map Maker mappers use Google's satellite imagery to draw roads and locate schools, parks and businesses. When the satellite imagery isn't clear enough (due to clouds or low resolution) to trace from directly, Mihai uses a GPS device to create GPS tracks for roads or to locate hotels, then exports the tracks as KML files and uses the Map Maker Overlays feature to draw the roads and hotel locations accurately. He also uses KML files to locate hotels on the map for his travel web site.

Mihai collaborates with other Romanian mappers and co-created a Romania Map Maker discussion group. "I met these people online," says Mihai. However, he will soon be getting together with his fellow mappers in person as they have scheduled a Map Maker training event and mapping party in Bucharest at the Bucharest Academy of Economic Sciences on November 14th (a Google team member will also attend the event in person). "I want to thank all the people from Romania who contribute to build the map on Google."

Posted by Jennifer Mazzon, Maps Community Organizer