Google’s Map For the Future
The 3D view of Toronto from Google Earth.
Last Friday, Torontoist visited Google Canada’s headquarters in the Toronto Life Square Complex to discuss Toronto and Google Maps with Mike Pegg, Google Map’s product marketing manager and the founder of Google Maps Mania (a blog devoted to Google Maps mashups and tools) and Tamara Micner, Google Canada’s communications officer. For the last few months, Google has remained elusive about its plans for Toronto’s Street View, and we were hoping that our meeting might shed some light on its “impending” release. But unfortunately, we couldn’t pry a date out of our hosts. “We want to launch as soon as we can,” said Pegg, somewhat ambiguously.
Pegg and Micner also hinted that the current satellite images of Toronto might be getting an upgrade. “I want to update it soon,” said Pegg. Right now, Google’s default Toronto imagery is from 2005; newer images from 2007 are available, but the quality isn’t very good. According to Pegg, Google tries to update its urban imagery, on average, every two to three years, so it’s about time for Toronto’s replacement. Pegg also mentioned that he hopes to one day work with Toronto’s museums and archives to create a comprehensive visual timeline of the city’s evolution in Google Earth.
Finally, Pegg and Micner showed us some of the map mashups out there that might be useful to Torontonians, including All Toronto Pubs, a map featuring all of the city’s pubs, Green P parking locations, and TTC lines; Dish Pointer, a neat mashup that tells users how to orient their satellite dishes; TaxiWiz, a site that allows people to calculate the estimated cost of a cab ride in Toronto, as well as twenty other cities; and a map by CBC.ca featuring all of the garbage transfer sites in the city (the City of Toronto and the Star also have their own maps). Pegg also demonstrated some of the more superfluous mashups. For instance, did you know that if you were to dig a hole from Toronto to the other side of the Earth, you’d come out in the Indian Ocean, or that if you started in Dundas Square, facing east, and tried to walk around the world in a straight line, you’d pass through California, Australia, Zambia, and Western Sahara?
Now, if only Google could practice what it preaches about “universally accessible” information, and reveal its plans for the city.