The quality and quantity of mapping information provided by the Pakistani users in last 11 months has enabled us to post Pakistan on the Google maps early this week, said Lalit Katragadda, the founder of Map Maker software told TheNation in an exclusive interview.
Aaron Stein of Google Global Communications and Public Affairs at their main office (that they call campus) here at Mountain View City enabled teleconference with Lalit who is based in Bangalore, India.
According to Lalit, a Pakistani based in London has posted most frequent edits to the Googles Map Maker, which is a user-operated software. It updates information instantly after a user sitting anywhere in the world within 160 countries posts an edit to the live Map Maker, he added. Since we are bound to keep the users confidentiality, therefore, well have to seek permission before disclosing this Pakistani who provided information more than all users of Map Maker around the world during the last 11 months, he said.
While Lalit was talking from Bangalore, Aaron showed this scribe the Map Maker on computer screen to locate TheNation offices back in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi while sitting in Silicon Valley, California. You can edit or add location, directions and street names right now of your hometown back in Pakistan, Lalit said. It offers as many languages to post an edit as many countries it is available in.
Asked about resolution conflicting information provided by two users, Lalit said, We can always verify from authentic as well as independent sources within an hours time. According to the father of 'Map Maker, Google Geo project was stepping forward to actively involve state organisations, non-governmental organisations and community leaders in further this three dimensional activity involving maps, satellite view and street view. Aiming at an ultimate 'encyclopaedic map of the world, Lalit said, Google is quite sensitive to local laws of each country, state and area.
He was pleased to respond to a question that Googles Map Maker had not confronted so far any political issue or resistance from anywhere in all the 160 countries. We have not faced any political issues so far, Lalit maintained.
To a question about a targeted completion of the Map Maker project, Lalit said, Map especially in the developing countries like India and Pakistan is a never ending journey. Even after drawing each and every street of a particular area, still there is room left to improvement. Still it is getting close to the point when well post this data to the Google Maps, like we did for Pakistan ahead of any other country for the first time on Wednesday only after having data to certain quality and amount, he maintained
Asked about adding 'street view to the project of Map Maker, Lalit said, It is difficult to give a timeframe for that since the history of street view is just two years old. But surely, street view would be added to Googles project of mapping the world. He also talked about the resources limitations for the addition of street view to the 'Map Maker, that in the first place cost Google nothing more than development of a user operated software.
Google so far did nothing about even creating awareness of this software available to the users in the 160 countries, not to mention promotions and projections, only because it was in an experimental phase. Now when user provided data to none other but Pakistan has graduated from Map Maker to Google Maps, we might go for certain promotions of this project for users information.
Questioned about any incentives or rewards for the users posting data and information to the Googles Map Maker, Lalit said, We believe users are doing this out of their own patriotism and self-motivation, so it might work other way round rather than encouraging users. Since this Map Maker was born in Bangalore, we do invite users who contribute data to a certain level.
The software application is available free of cost at mapmaker.google.com