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Google Adds Data to Georgia Maps?

Google announced additional map data for Georgia [1] today on the Lat Long Blog, along with a few other countries.

This announcement comes on the heels of explanations a few weeks ago about why Google Maps was missing data for the Georgian Republic. A number of sources on the internet had claimed that Google had yanked map data for Georgia in order to not be facilitating the war that sparked in the region with Russia. Google stated that this was untrue — that the region had never had detailed roads displayed because they didn’t have a good source of information for the area yet. (I was one of the people duped by the spurious claims — surprising, since it’s patently apparent that the Russian military would ALREADY have good maps of their region!)

Map of T'bilisi, Georgia - illustration for Google Maps article
(click to enlarge)

However, even though it’s great that Google is beefing up their map data, I have to say that publicising it and releasing it as they have done seems terribly precipitate. If you look at the screengrab above, you’ll see that the map data they added is just city name labels — no streets or roads connecting them up — and not even dots or outlines to show where the cities are actually located!

As a former cartographer, I find it ridiculous that they would’ve released more map data in this limited manner. The lack of pinpoints or roads demonstrates just how useless maps can be if there’s insufficient context included. Users cannot adequately make sense of a map in this state, rendering the addition of the city labels pointless.

For example, if you’re glancing at this map at the label for the city of Rustavi, can you tell if the city is above, below, or beside the name label?  Is the label centered over the city? And, the lack of roads connecting the cities is the worst part of all — is there a major road connecting it to T’bilisi, or not?!?

Thirty whacks with a wet noodle for releasing data in such a hasty manner, and then calling attention to the fact by promoting it!

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