Digital

A behind-the-scenes look at how Google is actually making its maps

Excerpt from The Atlantic Cities

Sep 07, 2012 10:51 am

Skift Take

Google Maps takes a lot more human touch than the digital directions let on, but will its intricate mapping method continue to stay on top after Apple releases their own mapping service?

— Samantha Shankman

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Behind every Google Map, there is a much more complex map that’s the key to your queries but hidden from your view. The deep map contains the logic of places: their no-left-turns and freeway on-ramps, speed limits and traffic conditions. This is the data that you’re drawing from when you ask Google to navigate you from point A to point B — and last week, Google showed me the internal map and demonstrated how it was built. It’s the first time the company has let anyone watch how the project it calls GT, or “Ground Truth,” actually works.

Google Maps Pressefoto

Photo by Thomas Benko.


The sheer amount of human effort that goes into Google’s maps is just mind-boggling. Every road that you see slightly askew in the top image has been hand-massaged by a human. The most telling moment for me came when we looked at couple of the several thousand user reports of problems with Google Maps that come in every day. The Geo team tries to address the majority of fixable problems within minutes.

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