Google is taking inspiration from Wikipedia and inviting Canadians to scan Google Maps in their hometowns and make improvements where needed.
A new tool called Google Map Maker, which launched in Canada on Monday, allows users to add roads, rivers, trails and points of interest – such as stores and libraries – or make edits to get rid of incorrect or outdated information.
Changes are vetted by a team at Google and fellow users before being seen by the world on Google Maps.
“Google’s objective here is to create an accurate atlas of the world and the reality is that Google’s not big enough to do this (alone),” said Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle.
“When it comes to our assumptions around who actually is in possession of the most relevant information to any user, I think it’s hubris to assume Google alone can do it without the help of the community of our users.
“It’s a model that’s worked with Wikipedia and a model that’s worked astoundingly well when it comes to the maps (elsewhere in the world) that are already online.”
Map Maker, a pet project of Google engineers in Bangalore, India, was first released in 2008 in a number of countries including Cyprus, Iceland and Pakistan. It was released earlier this year in the United States.
Before the product launched in Canada, some Canadian Google employees were testing it out and making their own additions and edits. Among them was engineer James MacLean, who lives in Hawkestone, Ont., about an hour and a half north of Toronto.
“In my little rural area here there were plenty of interesting things I was able to add to the map and a number of things I was able to correct,” Mr. MacLean said.
Among his changes was an update to the local post office’s entry to reflect that it’s actually more of a general store that sells everything from groceries to alcohol to stamps.
“By making that accurate then other people will be able to use that information and I’ve perhaps provided some kind of small service to the people who live in my community,” he said.