Google lets users edit Google Maps locations, wiki-style

Australian and US users can move incorrect markers to correct locations

For those who have gotten lost, delayed or just plain frustrated on a trip due to a mistaken marker on Google Maps, the company has unveiled a potential solution.

Google on Monday announced that registered Google users in the US and Australia can move incorrect markers for their homes or businesses to the correct locations.

Google did note that access to some listings, such as hospitals, government buildings or businesses whose listings have been claimed through Google's Local Business Center, will be restricted. In addition, some edits, such as moving a place marker more than 200 yards (or 200 meters in some countries) from its original location requires a moderator's approval before they show up on the map, according to Google.

The program requires a user to search for his home address to find an arrow that will have information about the location. After clicking edit, a user then can move the arrow to the correct location and save it. When anyone else searches for the address, they will see the edited marker at the correct address, Google said.

To prevent users from deliberately moving a marker to the wrong address, there will be a "Show Original" link that will direct users to the original marker. If the new one is in the wrong place, users can fix it.

Seth LaForge, a software engineer at Google maps, noted in the blog post announcing the change that "fixing markers can be downright addictive. I've spent hours using [Google's] Street View to locate businesses and houses, and then moving their markers."

Greg Sterling, founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm, noted in a blog post that the move is consistent with an increasing "socialization" or openness of Google "and part of a broader effort to obtain fresher and better local data.

"Allowing the community and business owners to edit and update information is the only viable way to have an accurate database," Sterling added. "As diligent as the various providers are in updating and correcting local listings, the commercial databases are full of inaccurate and outdated information," he said.

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
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