Monday, 30 June 2014

How I fixed the Library bridge

The Camera Guy
Detail from Google Street View. Copyright 2014 Google.
Max Spicer sets the Google Maps world to rights.

You may have seen that Google recently added Street View photos for both of the University's campuses. As you can't just drive around in a car, they sent someone with a camera on their back to walk around the many paths that weave around our beautiful grounds. You can now explore the campuses without having to get off the sofa and you can even find the guy with the camera if you look hard enough!

This is great for seeing what stuff looks like and, let's be honest, spending hours trying to find if anyone you know got caught on camera. However, Google Maps can do much more. You've probably already used Google to get directions - maybe to work out how to drive to the University - but did you know you can also use it to work out your walking route around campus once you get there? Google's got our roads and paths mapped out, so it can tell you the best way to walk between Central Hall and The Ron Cooke Hub as well as showing you what it will look like when you get there.

This is really useful, especially if you're new to the University, but when I tried out walking directions on Google Maps a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find that Google didn't know about the Library bridge. You could clearly see the bridge on Street View and in the satellite photos, but on the map itself it simply wasn't there. This meant Google's directions were hopeless. You can get between the Library and Market Square in about a minute on foot, but Google sent you off along paths and roads in completely the wrong direction.

Report a problem
Detail from Google Street View. Copyright 2014 Google.
That's not a problem any more, and I'm the one that fixed it. Google Maps now has the Library bridge, and I made sure that it got there. So, how did I do this? Simple - I clicked a link. At the bottom right of Google Maps there's a Report a problem link. I clicked this, then followed a couple of easy steps to say what was missing. Less than a week later, I got an email from Google saying "you were right!" and the maps were fixed.

There are actually quite a few bits of the campus paths that aren't right on Google Maps, or buildings with the wrong name, but it really is easy and quick to get them fixed and doing so will make Google Maps a great tool to help people find their way around the University. Have a look at the maps of campus and if you see anything wrong or missing, click that Report a problem link!
The Library Bridge - now on Google Maps
Edited detail from Google Street View. Copyright 2014 Google

PS: Behind the scenes, there's a great tool called Google Map Maker that lets you make changes to maps by hand. When you click Report a problem, the problems mostly get submitted to this tool and are reviewed and fixed by members of the community. Anyone can get involved, but that's probably the subject of another blog post.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anybody can comment on this blog, provided that your comment is constructive and relevant. Comments represent the view of the individual and do not represent those of The University of York Information Directorate. All comments are moderated and the Information Directorate reserves the right to decline, edit or remove any unsuitable comments.