Google Maps Gets Major Upgrade with More Details and Data

Map mashup developers take note. Google has just announced that it has made several changes to the Google Maps base map, which now includes several new base layers as well as well as more detailed information.

Google Maps - New Base Map

According to the Google Lat Long Blog, Google has worked directly with various data providers to expand and enhance the base map data used in Google Maps:

Today you may notice that the United States looks a bit different in Google Maps -- all of that new green park land was probably a giveaway. That's because we've worked directly with a wide range of authoritative information sources to create a new base map dataset. In our experience, these organizations that create the data do the best job of keeping it accurate and up-to-date. For example, in the US there are a number of publicly accessible geospatial datasets created by the government for the Census, land surveying, and transportation. These datasets provide information on everything from road networks and water bodies to toll roads and bridges. By integrating this information, and working with specialized data sources like the USDA Forest Service's Forest Boundaries and the US Geological Survey's National Hydrography Dataset, we've been able to expand and improve features in our maps like parks and water bodies.

Taking a look at the new base map data, several new data sets are discernible, including parcels (in major metropolitan regions):

Google Maps - Parcels!

And detailed campus maps, including building footprints:

Google Maps - Campus Map

Apparently Google's Geo Team also utilized aerial imagery and Street View data to verify and correct road information:

Satellite, aerial, and Street View imagery also helped. With overhead imagery, we could zoom in on roadway details to figure out details like the size of the road. Our Street View imagery, which you know as a tool to help you explore new places, turns out to be very helpful to understand road restrictions and confirm street data by reading street signs.

Trails and paths are also included in the new base map. Though subtly stated, perhaps one of the more exciting features that's in the works is the ability to get biking directions based on this new data.

Lastly, there is a new "Report a Problem" link on the bottom right of Google Maps, which is aimed at soliciting more feedback from users with regard to data quality. This new base map certainly adds a new level of appeal and one more compelling reason for mashup developers to take a serious look at the Google Maps API (our Google Maps API Profile), which continues to reign as the most popular API in our API Directory. Happy map mashing!

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: OpenStreetMap Joins the Static Maps Club


Comments (5)

38 years in Greenwich CT. All of a sudden google maps map view has dozens of errors : thru streets no longer thru, dead ends now thru streets, wrong names, - not an easy Town (ok, city) to get around in even if you live here. I hear you in that errors should be easy to report. But here at least there needs to be a concerted effort to gather all the errors and make the fixes at the same time.

A good source to check in addition to those in the government would be the volunteer fire companies in Town. They HAVE to know where they are going.



How do you access trails and parks in google maps?

@Bob Lucas

Thanks for the feedback. Because this is the first version of the data, it may that there are errors of omission. No one is quite sure how Google generated this data, and it may take some time before Google gets all of it up to speed.


You can find the trails and parks in various parts of the country. They are included as part of the base map, so there is no additional way of toggling them on or anything like that. Take a look at this map for a good example of a park and its trails:

I am a Real Estate Broker. Google maps is on our MLS so we can set up tours, however I am frustrated because there is no button for best route. Do you have an upgrade?