World Bank and Google join forces to empower mapping communities around the world

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 8:34 AM


Today the World Bank and Google announced a collaborative agreement aimed at improving disaster preparedness and development efforts in countries around the world.

Under this agreement, the World Bank will act as a conduit to make Google Map Maker source data more widely and easily available to government organizations in the event of major disasters, and also for improved planning, management, and monitoring of public services provision.

The free, web-based mapping tool called Google Map Maker enables citizens to directly participate in the creation of maps by contributing their local knowledge. Once approved, those additions are then reflected on Google Maps and Google Earth for others around the world to see.

The Google Map Maker data includes detailed maps of more than 150 countries and regions, and identifies locations like schools, hospitals, roads, settlements and water points that are critical for relief workers to know about in times of crisis. The data will also be useful for planning purposes, as governments and their development partners can use the information to monitor public services, infrastructure and development projects; make them more transparent for NGOs, researchers, and individual citizens; and more effectively identify areas that might be in need of assistance before a disaster strikes.

Community mapper in Kampala, Uganda

World Bank partner organizations, which include government and United Nations agencies, will be able to contact World Bank offices for possible access to the Google Map Maker data for their various projects. World Bank country offices in Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Zambia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Moldova, Mozambique, Nepal, and Haiti plan to pilot the Map Maker agreement.

The World Bank Institute (WBI) and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) will manage the World Bank’s involvement in the collaboration, building on previous joint mapping efforts. For example in April 2011, members of the Southern Sudanese Diaspora participated in a series of community mapping events organized by World Bank and Google to create comprehensive maps of schools, hospitals and other social infrastructure in this new country via Map Maker technology.

Google has enjoyed a strong relationship with World Bank for many years. As indicated by the World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region Obiageli Ezekwesili, “Today’s technology can empower civil society, including the diaspora, to collaborate and support the development process. This collaboration is about shifting the emphasis from organizations to people, and empowering them to solve their own problems and develop their own solutions using maps.”