The mapping product that can do everything can actually do a whole lot more.
Once upon a time maps were just something you bought at the local gas station or book store. Just in the last few days I’ve used maps on my iPhone to find a short cut to my hotel, to check the traffic and keep the taxi driver honest about the quickest way to my destination and to help a tourist find a bar where she had arranged to meet friends, in a city that was foreign to both of us.
Google are one of the stayers when it comes to maps because they have been the most successful to date when it comes to paid search when it comes to map centric information, especially now that you can get it on pretty much every mobile.
Street View revolutionized the world causing both amusement and angst. Now we pretty much take for granted that we can check out the places we came from, where we have been, lived, went to school, had holidays, or even looking at places we might like to visit. I’m planning a holiday later this year and one of the things my wife and I agreed on was that we didn’t want to see too much on line or there would be no surprises. The flip-side of that is people can check out places they may never be able to visit and whilst Google Glasses may be out of the picture for a while, it is inevitable that one day you will be able to where stereo glasses and take a virtual tour anywhere for free. Between Augmented Reality glasses and the 3D ortho-photography glasses used in mapping rooms around the world the technology already exists.
Making your own map is so easy today. I made one in about a minute following the link on this story, showing how to walk from the Auckland CBD to the Cricket World Cup match at Eden Park between Australia and New Zealand, complete with cafes along the way. If you had a spreadsheet with locations and their coordinates, which Google also provides for free you could upload Points of Interest and do much more that mapping companies used to make a living from not that long ago. Now it is free, easy and there are tutorials for those in a hurry or less adventurous. Once you’ve made the map, you can save it and share it with other people, for free.
Lots of organizations that create maps using Google, then share them with anyone who would like to access them. Check some out here http://maps.google.com/gallery. There are maps for Africa, with things like a map of the world with the percentage % of population who use the Internet, life expectancy and GDP (all great if you want to market a product internationally).
I used to often complain about inaccuracies on Google Maps, there were many flaws in them, missing streets, paper roads (roads that were drafted but never constructed. Now it is really easy to let them know when they have it wrong.
If you haven’t heard of God View, check out the article above to find out how you can virtually fly through an area on Google Earth as if you were on a plane and see 3D buildings and landscapes. This is the stuff we saw on Star Trek (RIP Leonard Nimoy) decades ago and now anyone can do it.
One of the next big things that developers and destinations are getting excited is indoor mapping and navigation. Google’s into that as well. Pretty soon you will be able to walk around municipal buildings, libraries, universities, shopping malls and other rabbit warrens, with directions as well as information such as the location of assets, or who has the best deal on new shoes.
Speaking of Star Trek, it’s not just about roads any more, with the aid of people with big back packs full of GPS and camera gear and probably drones, Google now has walk throughs and fly throughs of all sorts of treks from the canals of Venice to the Galapagos Islands.
So, to cut a long story short, Google Maps is a lot more than a map, it is a doorway to the world that you can use in so many ways. For fun, for education, to save time, to plan, to gain intelligence and to share it. Check out the article above to find out how to do these things. You might even want to bookmark it because I guarantee that one of these days, in the near future, you will want to use it. In the famous words of The Borg, “Resistance is futile”.