Let the mapping begin! Google's first Global Mapping Competition runs from December 15 - January 31, 2010. During this period, the mapper who adds the most universities, schools, hospitals, and medical clinics with high quality into Google Map Maker will win a $50,000 UNICEF donation to benefit the country of their choice for work empowering young people through technology. Google Map Maker is available in more than 170 countries and allows users to become "citizen cartographers" by adding and editing map features. To foster participation from coutnries around the world, we have versions of the site in several languages: English, Spanish, French, Russian, Romanian, and Vietnamese.

"We are delighted that Google is supporting UNICEF's efforts to
help build a world fit for children. We know that mapping is a proven method to enhance community development. Google Map Maker is a powerful tool to create better situational awareness for both young people and communities at large. It will enable organizations like ours to better deliver services, respond to crises and adapt to change," said Gerrit Beger, leader of UNICEF's innovation drive focusing on youth.

For your mapping additions to get published on Google Map Maker and eventually make it into Google Maps, other users will have to moderate (approve or deny) your changes. You will, in turn, moderate others' changes, which is why it's often helpful to map with a partner or in a small team. Moderation quantity and quality are also an important criteria for judging competition entries so don't forget to moderate as much as you map.

This global competition comes on the heels of the Latin America mapping competition that ended yesterday. More than 50 teams from all over the world registered for the Latin America mapping competition, and we've seen more than 500% mapping activity increases for several Latin American countries during the competition period. We're very excited about this participation level and are looking forward to announcing the competition winners on January 8, 2010.

The Global Mapping Competition, kicking off this week, was first announced the Global Mapping Competition at an event organized jointly by the United Nations and Google at Google's office in New York. During that event, 80 United Nations delegates from more than 20 UN agencies, including UNICEF, met with various Google product teams to explore how Google's wide array of products and services can further the UN mission and help foster innovation and new thinking.

We invite mappers everywhere to register for the competition and map for a good cause over the holidays and into 2010.