With the help of its citizens, Georgia’s Google Map to be colored in

Aug 8, 2011
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This year, Georgia was mapped for the first time … on Google, that is. Due to efforts in Georgia, geographic detail is finally available on Google Map Maker, a service launched by Google in 2008 to open Google Maps to community collaborative effort, and will soon be available on Google Maps itself.

Georgia, as it currently appears on Google Maps.

Until recently, only several main cities were marked on the map of Georgia available on Google Maps, which depicted the country as a vague mass surrounded by countries of more vibrant color. It was impossible to obtain names of streets, interesting places, or prominent sightseeing destinations. When compared with neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia, Georgia seemed to be a blank white space.

Google acknowledged the notable absence in a blog post published on Google’s official blog during the 2008 South Ossetia War. According to Google, Georgia’s topographical omission was attributable to a lack of reliable maps of the region. Since then, the tides have turned. According to a Georgian news source, negotiations with Google began after the visit of the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Vera Kobalia to the United States.

The data to be uploaded on Google Maps has been partially prepared, and the process will be finished in its entirety next year. In 2009, several government agencies and JumpStart Georgia, a project started in 2009 with the goal of creating an open-source map of Georgia primarily through volunteer effort, began working in conjunction to obtain information for the map. In the end, more than 40 community organizers and 1,000 volunteers took part in the project, walking with GPS machines and walking papers in hand to map out their cities, towns, and villages. Together, they were successful in creating an electronic map of Georgia (excepting breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia), as depicted below in a digital representation of the data collection.

Now names of cities, rivers, lakes and interesting sights are available on Google Map Maker, and a beta version of the map is available here.


About the Author

Elza Ketsbaia

Elza Ketsbaia has served as Transition’s country manager for Georgia for three years. She is an experienced journalist with stints in broadcast journalism at Radio Ucnobi and the Georgian Public Broadcaster. She holds a master’s degree from the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management.
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