Hard up for cash and wondering where the nearest ATM is? Looking for a restaurant that your colleague recommended? Finding your way around the city can be easy with Google Maps, provided that the minor landmarks and hotspots show up on the map.
While major roads, places of interest and institutions in Tiruchi show up easily on Google Maps, landmarks which are integral to each locality such as banks, places of worship, hospitals, restaurants, and shops are hard to find, as not all of them have been marked. Hoping to put Tiruchi’s lanes, businesses and small-time landmarks on the map to make it easier for tourists and locals, a team of MCA students has been mapping the city’s streets in the last two months. They also organised a Google Mapup event earlier this month, where like-minded people were invited to map out their localities.
While the event held at Bishop Heber College elicited only lukewarm response, the initiative has helped in more places around the city making it to the map. The initiative was taken by the 2013 MCA batch of the college, headed by Hari Velayutham and S. Lakshman. The new pass outs contacted Google, which approved the event. The students were inspired to take up the task after some of them participated in the Google Mapathon, a national event which concluded in May. Hari and Lakshman between themselves had marked more than 2,000 destinations in the city.
“When we started mapping, we found that only general areas were demarcated in Tiruchi, but there was not much street-wise mapping of ATMs, places of worship and restaurants or hospitals in a particular area,” says Mr. Hari. “Mapping also is useful to update developments that make navigation easy like new bridges and marking roads which allow one-way traffic,” says Lakshman.
Mapping also allows for editing marked locations and adding information like contact details to each item on the map. Features like indicating a parking lot for an office or institution makes the map more user-friendly.
The open-to-all event saw participation by mostly college students. Organiser Krishna and R.Thamarai Selvi, head of the department oriented the participants on the task. Initially posts by new editors would be approved by regional editors for Tamil Nadu, say members. Business houses and commercial establishments stand to gain when their location shows up on Google Maps promptly. To make more MapUp events possible, colleges and universities with free Wi-Fi can come forward to host them, feels the team.