Google Maps is the largest online mapping solution. And yet, even after 8 years of its inception, the service had been unable to provide any data about North Korea. Now, Google has finally started carving out the details of North Korea into its Maps, adding street names and other general geographical features.
This had been made possible as a result of crowdsourcing effort. The information included in the map had been collected from people who revealed the names of streets, areas and buildings. The data was then verified and finally added to Google Maps.
The timing of the Maps update is rather significant given the fact that Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, recently visited North Korea. In his remarks after the visit, Mr. Schmidt wasn’t very praising of the country, citing the utter lack of internet access in the country. However, the new data added to the map is unrelated to his visit, a Google spokesperson stated.
The spokesperson further said, “This data has been in Map Maker for a while now, but it commonly takes the Map Maker community a few years to generate enough high-quality data to make something that works in Google Maps.”
The updated North Korea on Google Maps now also includes the locations of work camps, or gulags, which are considered one of the most inhuman prisons in the world. Apparently, the crowdsourcing project to gather information about North Korea has been in the works for quite a while now and it was only now that Google felt that it had sufficient information to start mapping actual landmarks for the country.