Google wants your geodata 3

Last week Google Maps Mania had a post about a soon to be launched feature in the Google Maps API.

Google have announced that in a few weeks time they will be adding new functionality to the Google Maps API v2 that allows Google to log the location and content of the markers and/or infowindows that are displayed in Google Maps mashups. Google then plans to use the gathered data created by Google Maps developers within the main Google Maps site.

Can you see where this is going? If Google are building their own map of the world as they phase out Tele Atlas then all of the mashedup content provides an additional source of information and content to add to that gleaned from collecting StreetView and whatever other smart collection techniques Google have in plan.

This takes crowd sourcing to another level or is it the ultimate in Derived Data?

I would be fascinated to know how Google will extract features and infer information from the mashed up points and info windows?

Of course if you don’t want your geodata to be absorbed by Google there is a way to stop them by switching off indexing in your API settings (but I guess that means that less people will find your app when they search for it).

You can sort of understand why OS lawyers were getting a little heated about the “perpetual rights” clause in Google’s T&C’s a few months back.

3 thoughts on “Google wants your geodata

  • Steven


    I have no problem with my thoughts (or ramblings) being indexed and aggregated by Google or others. Ditto for my twitterings even when they are impulsive and I might, on reflection, not have pressed the send button. That is the digital footprint/trail/detritus that I leave behind me by choice or at least with awareness.

    I wasn't suggesting anything sinister in Google starting to make use of the content from mashups. I think incorporating this content and intelligence is a logical step and a smart move by Google.

    It remains to be seen how the community of developers respond but as you have said many will appreciate the syndication and publicity if it drives more users to their sites.


  • ed

    I think you are reading too much into this, for many people who create sites using the Google Maps API they are looking to make people aware of activities at particular locations, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions etc. For these people the potential to reach even more people by these locations appear on Google Maps by default is hugely valuable !!

    If for some reason as a maps developer I don't want there to be any chance of my data appearing on a map as the blog post points out there are a couple of ways to stop than from happening.

    How concerned are you that your thoughts as posted on this blog for free using Google infrastructure are also indexed and may appear in web search results or on news aggregation sites ?

  • TG

    Good post. Yes indeed, as with everything there's always 2 sides to a story.

    The bottom line is we live in a free world. You can either choose to benefit from the free infrastructure and inclusion in search results that Google (and others) offer, in return for relinquishing some of the control over your data, or you can do it all yourself, e.g. on OpenStreetMap, but then have to pay for your own infrastructure and, separately, for inclusion in search results.

    Depending on the user case, or resources available, one option will be better than the other. It's give and take, really. Sure there are still unresolved copyright issues, but you are entirely free to stay clear.

    My main concern is that many people are, for whatever reason, not aware or not clearly made aware of the implication of their choices. These things are usually buried in the small print. But organisations such as AGI or the Free Our Data campaign could make a real difference in driving public awareness campaign on this. Merely shouting that everything needs to be free and open (or not, whichever view you take) is not going to solve that problem. I'd say lay the options clearly on the table, and let users decide for themselves.

    Google is a business so we should not expect it to act like a charity (nor is OS by the way – at least not yet!)


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