Google Maps will soon be focusing on map making for planning and disaster management.

Search engine giant Google has taken the initiative for this, as decided at the Google Geo-community Summit held in Singapore recently. Efforts are on to achieve this with community involvement, Dr. C. N. Ramachandran Nair, who had attended the Summit, told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

Dr. Nair, who volunteers for about two hours daily mapping various places in India using Google Mapmaker, is one of the few persons in India designated by Google as Map Maker Advocate.

Dr. Nair said that most of India’s towns had been mapped extensively by volunteers; marking highways, roads, landmarks, institutions and other establishments. While Gujarat and most parts of Rajasthan are well-mapped, community map making is yet to gain popularity in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.

He said that the country had more than 10000 active ‘mappers’, contributing to Google’s efforts to map the world through involvement of volunteers. Kerala has about 500. These activities had been going on for the past six to seven years.

Now, Google has allowed even homes to be marked using Google Map Maker. Only condition is that the house number should be given and personal details such as names of inhabitants should not be added.

Dr. Nair, who is a resident of Thiruvananthapuram, said that Google had now made high resolution maps of places such as Vattiyoorkavu in Thiruvanathapuram available for community mapping. Even flower pots in front of houses could be seen in those maps. Efforts are being made by Google to provide better satellite imagery enabling the map makers to create much better maps.

Map data at Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Maps Mobile comes from various data sources. These sources include the official map data for most of the countries that usually comes from their survey departments. Google is now replacing the purchased or hired map data with their proprietary data coming through contributions from Google Map Maker, he said.

Since Google Map Maker is based upon crowd sourced contributions that come from all kinds of people around the world, it is highly probable and expected to have malicious entries. The algorithm in moderation (usually an item is published after getting reviewed and moderated by trusted moderators) however does not let entries go without being seen by human eyes.

Still, there are chances of misaligned roads, non-existent Intersections, unapproved segments of roads and wrong place names or malicious data going uncorrected. Besides, unclear satellite imagery and cloud cover sometimes posed problems.