Although Google first started as an internet search engine, the company has grown to such an extent that almost all information can be accessed using one of Google’s products; and one service that has made Google indispensable to hundreds of millions of people world-wide is mapping.
Now that Apple will be using their own in-house map app for their iPhone operating systems, Google could be facing some stiff competition. However, Google is not a company that will just rest on its laurels and let competitors sneak by; it is always looking for ways to make a better map.
Former NASA engineer and present-day Google employee working on the Mars mapping project Michael Weiss-Malik spoke to a reporter from The Atlantic.com and gave a general outline of the steps involved in digital map-making.
“So you want to make a map, there are a couple of steps. You acquire data through partners. You do a bunch of engineering on that data to get it into the right format and conflate it with other sources of data, and then you do a bunch of operations, which is what this tool is about, to hand massage the data. And out the other end pops something that is higher quality than the sum of its parts.”
Some maps that are used as base layers on Google do contain some minor inaccuracies; however, the company takes great pains to remedy this. Unlike competing internet map providers, Google has extensive “Ground Truthing” teams which take in and record more data every two weeks than the company had in all of 2006. These teams may be familiar to the public as the Google Street View cars and vehicles.
While most people now use Google maps for directions, with all the countless innovations in mapping that are being developed, it is practically guaranteed that people will find more and more uses for Google maps and the company will continue to be the leader in the field for years to come.