No big surprise that The Atlantic’s piece on Google Maps – an “exclusive look inside Ground Truth, the secretive program to build the world’s best accurate maps” is coming out the week before the new iOS 6 with Apple Maps are introduced. It has been great theater watching all of the ways Google has been pushing the “we kick ass on maps” meme over the past few months.
I found this passage on how Google uses its Street View technology to read the world’s signs particularly intriguing:
“Google Street View wasn’t built to create maps like this, but the geo team quickly realized that computer vision could get them incredible data for ground truthing their maps. Not to detour too much, but what you see above is just the beginning of how Google is going to use Street View imagery. Think of them as the early web crawlers (remember those?) going out in the world, looking for the words on pages. That’s what Street View is doing. One of its first uses is finding street signs (and addresses) so that Google’s maps can better understand the logic of human transportation systems. But as computer vision and OCR improve, any word that is visible from a road will become a part of Google’s index of the physical world.”
You hear that? That’s the sound of spammers rewriting road signs to improve their rankings.