Google vs OSM

Now I know Google are starting to roll out their new Maps interface but one thing they should really get sorted is their low-level city detail. Clancy Wilmott is in the final stages of organizing the Thinking and Doing Digital Mapping workshop at Warwick (17-18th June) and asked about transport plans in the Coventry area. Predictably my first thoughts were “let’s check Google Maps!” but unfortunately the results were less than satisfactory. Check below:

Coventry Google Maps

So I went onto OSM thinking I might find a more detailed picture of Coventry and this is what I got:

Coventry OSM

And wow, what a difference. If Google really want to be known as Cartographic Kings of the World then they need to sort out this kind of quality issue. Yes, okay the satellite layer sort of makes up for this loss of information, but when large swathes of city centres are completely greyed out then you can’t really claim any victories on quality. OSM beats Google hands down on the urban intricacies.

Google Map Maker Comes to the UK I

Users in the UK can now do all the things they could do on OSM (!) now on Google Maps with it’s ‘Map Maker’ tool. Map Maker ‘Pulse’ is a live window of these map edits. Users can add new places, roads, rivers, building outlines, natural features and boundaries as well as editing existing places, line features, road segments and directions.

Creepy cartography

A whirlwind introduction to the world of digital mapping technologies over at The Guardian today. Lots of predictable quotes, here are some of a selection;

‘The transition to print gave far more people access to maps. The transition to ubiquitous digital mapping accelerates and extends that development – but it is also transforming the roles that maps play in our lives.’  Jerry Brotton (academic) on the speed of technological change.

‘Before [Google Maps launched], we were on that old Mapquest thing – that was just an interface for loading a static map, really. But then Google… comes along, and suddenly you feel like you’re in this seamless interactive environment.’ David Heyman (map company founder) on interactivity.

‘The map is mapping us…[and] I am quite suspicious and cynical about products that appear to be innocent and neutral, but that are actually vacuuming up all kinds of behavioural and attitudinal data.’ Martin Dodge (academic) on data ethics

‘People should be free of the worry of some hi-tech peeping tom technology violating one’s privacy when in your own home.’ Chuck Schumer (Senator) on digital privacy

‘Every map… is someone’s way of getting you to look at the world his or her way.’ Lucy Fellowes (curator) on maps as political tools.

Scroll down the article to see ‘how technology is making us mentally flabby‘ (ha).