Google Map Maker gives UK users editing tools

Google is expanding its Map Maker edit tools to the UK. The software will allow users to add details about buildings, hiking trails, vegetation and other features to its maps of the country.

The change has been announced at a time when Apple and Nokia are heavily investing in rival ‘free to use’ mapping technologies.

Technology experts have suggested that the rise of GPS enabled devices means that future profits could be made from location triggered adverts or the data could be sued to promote situation specific services.

Google first launched its Map Maker service in 2008 to allow users to fill in the blanks when their own cartographers were focused on other countries. It allowed users to edit maps for Pakistan, Vietnam, and a dozen other countries.

Google later expanded the service to the rest of the world including the US, France and Australia. They said there were ‘technical obstacles to overcome’ when merging its existing data with Map Maker, which explains why it has taken so long for the service to come to the UK.

Users will be able to add places, roads, rivers, railways, natural features and political boundaries. Volunteers will build up a confidence score as their amendments are verified, and after a while will require fewer checks.

“We have a trust moderation system in place and that algorithmically figures out whether we can trust this person and how sensitive the feature is,” project manager Jessica Pfund said.

“No matter how trusted you are if you change a very prominent feature, like a Tate art gallery, it’s going to have to go through a lot more moderation than if you add a small restaurant to the rural countryside.”

She added that users could expect accurate additions to go live within a few days of them being proposed.

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