Google and the World Bank are joining forces to improve disaster preparation and development efforts globally.
Google Map Maker is a free online tool that enables citizens to directly participate in the creation of maps by contributing their local knowledge. Once approved, those additions are reflected on Google Maps and Google Earth.
Google Map Maker data includes detailed maps of more than 150 countries and regions, and incorporates locations such as schools, hospitals, roads, settlements and water points – critical knowledge for relief workers, NGOs, researchers, and citizens.
The information will also be useful for planning and monitoring of public services, infrastructure and development projects, according to Google programme manager France Lamy – making them and enabling the identification of areas that might be in need of assistance before a disaster strikes.
Any World Bank partner organisation, including government agencies, will be able to request access to Google Map Maker data for projects.
The scheme will get a test run at World Bank offices based in Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Zambia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Moldova, Mozambique, Nepal, and Haiti.
The pilot is building on previous joint mapping efforts. In April 2011, for example, members of the Southern Sudanese Diaspora participated in a series of community mapping events organised by World Bank and Google to create comprehensive maps of schools, hospitals and other social infrastructure.