Following the controversy surrounding Google Map Maker, the Maps team has been hard at work trying to improve the Map Editing tool. Following an initial hiatus Map Maker was slowly turned back on in various regions of the world, but unfortunately, Australia never made it to that list and now it never will.
In the wake of the mapping mishap, Google created the Regional leads program where select Google Map Makers were given access to moderate other people’s edits in an attempt to prevent another mis-map and the ongoing map fraud that goes on. Yes, Map Fraud.
As a previous Map Maker and selected but never activated Regional Lead, I have a few insights into the kind of under-handed and downright shady things people can do when they have the ability to edit the map, and no I’m not giving examples as I don’t want to hand out a how to guide.
Without Map Maker, how will Google keep your neighbourhood up to date? Simple, with Google Maps. Google has been slowly adding more and more features into the stock Google Maps apps for mobile and the Web to allow anyone to contribute to the Map. How Google intends to manage the volume of edits without its army of Regional Leads remains to be seen, but I’d wager machine learning is involved at least in its marketing if not its engineering.
At present, there are already many Map Maker like functions that you can undertake from the Google Maps app, they include:
- Add a place
- Edit info about a place
- Share more details about a place
- Moderate edits
- View the status of your edits
Google also incentivises contributions to Google Maps via its Local Guides program, where Google users can register to become a Local Guide and start earning points for their contributions. Earned points count towards your Local Guide ‘level’ which comes with various perks. Check out the current 5 levels below.
- Local Guides newsletter
- Join Google-hosted workshops and Hangouts
- (In select countries) in exclusive contests for Local Guides
- Early access to new Google products and features
- Promote your own meet-ups on the Local Guides calendar
- Local Guides badge in Google Maps
- Exclusive Local Guides community
- Moderate Local Guides community channels
- Receive invites to Google-hosted events
- Free Google Drive storage
- Eligible to be featured in Local Guides online channels
- Eligible for Trusted Testing opportunities — access Google products and features before they are made public
- Eligible to attend the Local Guides summit
You can earn points in a variety of ways, but by far the most “efficient” is to add new entries onto the map. Each location on a map (a location could be a POI, Business park etc) is worth a maximum of 5 points, you can claim points for each location via any combination of the below ways, each type of contribution is worth 1 point, with a maximum of 5 points per place. For example:
- Add a new place = 1 point
- Upload 1 or more photos to the same place = 1 point
- Write a review = 1 points
- Answer 1 or more local questions about the same place = 1 point
- Make 1 or more edits to the same place = 1 point
For those who use Map Maker you’ll know that there are still a lot of features missing, including add missing roads, edit existing roads, edit geometry (boundaries etc), add meta tags to locations to name but a few. This signifies not only the end of Google Map Maker but eventually the Regional Leads program.
It’s clear why Google made this decision, especially with their increasingly fiscally-responsible nature, and it should actually allow more people easier access to keeping Google Maps up to date. There will of course, be some who miss the exclusive feel of a little-known product, but hey it wouldn’t be Google if they didn’t occasionally kill off a niche but much loved offering.
If you’re a Map Maker and you haven’t joined Local Guides as yet it may be time to join up and transfer over all of your points to the new program. If you’ve been active you’ll most likely sky rocket to level 5 instantly.
Did you use Google Map Maker? Are you sad to see it go like I am? Let us know below.