Google Maps gets '2.5D' feature

Google Maps may not be viewable in 3D, but a new feature launched on Tuesday puts it a step closer in that direction.

Google is now working on a new feature for its Map Maker service that will render buildings in so-called "2.5D", which shows a landmark's location in terms of the usual longitude and lattitude coordinates as well as giving an idea of its height.

As of Tuesday evening, Google's Map Maker site indicated that the feature —first proposed in December 2009— has a priority of "medium".

At the moment, Google is allowing users of its Map Maker utility to directly add their local knowledge as citizen cartographers and to see the changes reflected online in minutes.

On Tuesday, Google opened the map of the United States in Google Map Maker for users to add their expert local knowledge directly.

"You know your neighborhood or hometown best, and with Google Map Maker you can ensure the places you care about are richly represented on the map. For example, you can fix the name of your local pizza parlor, or add a description of your favorite book store," it said in a blog entry.

Google noted that people using Map Maker have built out and edited the maps for 183 countries and regions around the world.

Due to the contributions of these citizen cartographers, it said that 30 percent of people have detailed online maps of the places they live.

"Map Maker users have mapped entire cities, road networks and universities that were never previously recorded online. These contributions have been incorporated into Google Maps and Google Earth, so the collective expertise of the Map Maker community benefits the millions of people using these products globally," Google said.

Google encouraged citizen cartographers to make the map complete in other ways as well, such as by marking bike lanes or adding all of the buildings on their university campus so they appear in Google Maps.

"We’ve seen incredibly detailed contributions from power users worldwide ... We’re eager to see you add the same level of detail to locations in the United States," it said.

To confirm that Map Maker user contributions are accurate, Google said that each edit will be reviewed.

After approval, the edits will appear in Google Maps within minutes, dramatically speeding up the time it takes for online maps to reflect the often-changing physical world.

New features for global users

In addition to opening Map Maker for the United States, Google added some new features for its users outside of the US.

Users can now get a street-level perspective on places with Street View imagery directly in Map Maker, see and edit all points of interest, and find exactly what they are looking for with advanced search options such as displaying all railroad tracks. — TJD, GMA

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