How – and why – Google is transforming the map


WebInvestigator.KK.org - by F. Kaskais

For Google, the map is not the end product. Lee Bennett/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Google has managed to map most of the world. Recently, the company offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how it’s built the Google Maps application using a combination of technology (the Google Street View car), expansion (the acquisition of satellite-imagery startup Skybox) and algorithms (computer vision, photogrammetry, mapping).

While the company’s initial focus had been on the world’s population centers (in 2006, Google had used high resolution satellite imagery to map 37% of the world’s population; by 2012 that number had risen to 75%), their reach has extended beyond human settlements. In Google Maps’ Street View feature, users can now observe penguins in Antarctica, tourists in Machu Picchu, and Himalayan base camps.

While the early focus of Google’s mapping efforts had been on mapping for the world, the company is now jumping on the crowdsourcing…

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