GeoData Explorations: Google's Ever-Expanding Geo Investment

Google has been investing lots of money in geodata acquisition. Some of the money is being spent externally: they’ve inked an exclusive satellite imagery deal with GeoEye (Radar post) and a data sharing deal Tele Atlas (Radar post). And some is being spent internally with Mapmaker, Street View and the web. Over the past week Google has been sharing visualizations of their internally gathered geodata. Here’s a round-up of them.

google street view

The image above was released on December 9th. It shows how much of the US is available via Street View. According to the post Street View imagery increased 22 fold around the world in 2008.

google mapmaker viz

The dark image above was released on December 11th. It highlights the parts of the world that are being mapped on Google’s Mapmaker by users (Radar post). Mapmaker is now live in 164 countries. According to the map it has gained the most traction in Africa and the Indian sub-continent. The Google Mapmaker team has released timelapse videos of Mapmaker building cities on the Mapmaker YouTube Channel. I’ve embedded one after the jump.

google georss kml

This final image shows all the points described by GeoRSS and KML all over the world. It was shown at Where 2.0 2007 by Michael Jones (video). Unsurprisingly, this image and the Mapmaker image show opposite data density concentrations.

In some more GeoData Explorations posts this week I will look at OSM vs Google and some surprising trends in KML.

This timelapse video of Da Lat, Vietnam being created is one of the most impressive. It shows a town and lake emerge from a blank slate.

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  • Friend

    Like Street View, Map Maker is two words.

  • I’m amazed at how much progress Google has made with Street View in such a short period of time. I’m looking forward to the continued expansion and usage(via mashups etc).

    “Unsurprisingly, this image and the Mapmaker image show opposite data density concentrations.”

    Is this because the usage is limited to different countries? Or just because one is more popular than the other in different places?

  • Is it just me who gets a shiver down my spine when I look at this map of world domination by Google. Are we going to wake up one day and wonder how we allowed Google to overwhelm this space? Or maybe they are lovely cuddly people who have our best interests at heart and we have no reason to be concerned

  • @jason arnold

    hey jason! the two images don’t show usage. the first shows what is being mapped currently. the second shows what has already been mapped.

    @steven feldman

    zomg they have maps!!!1

  • Steven Feldman, the thing is, Google isn’t really doing this, Google is enabling human beings to do this on their own. If anything, I would say this is a victory for the human race, and Google apparently understands that user empowerment should be their primary goal.

  • brady forrest

    @carl Youngblood

    Google is doing Street View. They are enabling Map Maker.

    @Steve Feldman

    Why is this any better/worse than maps or GPS? The data is not realtime (yet). I think it will serve more good than ill.

  • Jim Brown

    Carl Youngblood,

    Even though, Google is ‘enabling human beings’ to do the mapping, in the end they (Google) are retaining the ownership of the resulting map data…

  • Ron

    I checked out mapmaker after reading your intriguing article. Unfortunately, it appears that Google hasn’t enable most of the US for editing yet …

  • I’m amazed that people really use mapmaker and rather contribute to a product of a commercial entity, than for example to OpenStreetmaps.

    I’m sure in the future, we’ll pay a little bit for all those location based services — e.g. “For as little as 2$/month, learn what’s going on around you.”.

    Or does mapmaker come with some sort of guarantee that they will never turn your user contributed data into money? I’m almost sure that whatever you put in the system is “owned” by Google, or at least you grant them any right to do whatever they want.