The Google Lat Long Blog posted some exciting news today. People can now edit locations on Google Maps and, for example, adjust the position of a marker on the map to provide more accurate positioning information. Some of the interesting questions that arise in context with this new feature concern Google’s backend geocoding database. Google need reference geo-datasets to do their geocoding. Let’s assume that almost all of the marker positions are at least slightly off – let’s assume that heaps of people will love to help out and correct these marker positions. When Google serves geocoding requests, they will use the updated information to provide more accurate results for the user. Some of the businesses that sell geocoding reference datasets charge customers by the amount of geocoding requests to the reference database. Does Google have to count when someone searches for an address that has been manually corrected? Does this need to be logged as a normal geocoding request? Will this “enhanced” and crowdsourced geocoding reference information flow back to the original data providers? Who owns the coordinates? Besides the issue of reliability, isn’t that a great new dataset that will emerge? Or am I missing that the providers of geocoding reference databases still have street name information and the like, which kind of “belongs” to them and is still needed for geocoding? Any chances of Google freeing themselves more and more from huge geocoding bills?
More details about the new feature can also be found in a post on the Understanding Google Maps and Yahoo Local Search Blog