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Google relying on user data to map Indian cities


Hyderabad: Global internet search giant Google Inc has taken up mapping of major Indian cities and other emerging economies by relying on the data from users, a company official said here Wednesday.

Vinay Goel, head of products, Google India, told a news conference that the company was relying on user data for mapping major cities in 180 countries, including India.

It has already rolled out services like landmark-based driving directions and providing information about public transport in major Indian cities.

Google Transit has already been launched in cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Unlike in the US, where driving directions can be given easily, in India and other emerging economies, new colonies, constructions and frequent changes in one-way traffic rules make it difficult to map the cities, he said.

“The moment I prepare a map, it becomes outdated. We felt the best thing is to do is to rely on the data of users,” Goel said.

There is an active community of users in India that takes ownership of neighbourhood and by using satellite imagery prepare the maps of roads.

“We are getting very dense graph of information that we are using to map every city and to give driving directions,” he said.

Citing the example of Lahore, he said the entire of Pakistani city was mapped by users within three days.

“People distributed work among themselves. They worked with a sense of patriotism, and everyone said ‘I want my city to be mapped’,” Goel said.

Goel said Google continues to make search more relevant, fast and user friendly and improve user experience by effecting 1.5 to 2 changes every week. Last year it made 490 changes. In 2009, it introduced 510 changes.

According to him, the job of the search engine had become much more complex than what it was two years ago as people want latest information in all media formats.

Six months back, Google launched real time results to provide information on instant basis. At any given time, Google is indexing a billion pages on instant basis.

Last year, it rolled out a new service by which a user can search without even completely typing what he wants to search.

Magnifying glass was another change brought for instant preview. A user can use to preview sites on a particular subject even before loading them.

Goel said as India was witnessing mobile revolution with 700 million mobiles and increasing number of people using internet through, Google was working to cater to their search requirements. It has already rolled out services like search through voice and image.

He termed India as one of the fastest growing internet markets in the world.

The online penetration in India is nine to 10 percent while in most of the developed economies it is 70 to 90 percent.

“There is room for growth coming from China and South East Asia,” he said.