Google: We Did Not Erase Maps of Georgia
Several reports coming out of Google have suggested that data from Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan has been taken off Google Maps. One story reported in the New York Times blog, said that the maps went blank as soon as the fighting started last week.
Google says that’s not so. While its Web maps shows only the outlines of those three countries — without roads or even the capital cities marked — Google says that the lack of information is not new.
“Google has not made any recent change to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in Google Maps,” the company said in a statement. “We do not have local data for those countries and that is why local details such as landmarks and cities do not appear.”
Browsing Google Maps, only a few countries appear to lack any data at all. They include small nations like Guyana and Suriname; countries that are largely close to foreigners, such as North Korea; and a few surprising ones, like South Korea and Argentina.
Interestingly, Google Earth, the company 3-D geographic visualization service, identifies many Georgian cities, and it allows users to zoom in to them close enough to see individual buildings. So Google Earth clearly has some “local data” on the countries that are blank on Google Maps.
Microsoft’s rival mapping service, Virtual Earth, pinpoints dozens on cities in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Google has released a statement saying that they never had enough data to fill the maps anyway, which was also reported by The New York Times, but is it better to have blank maps, or no maps at all?