Shameless Google Uses Volunteers to Build Local Maps in Africa

Picture: Google
Picture: Google
In a post on a Google Blog yesterday we learned that the search giant invited 60 of Google Map Maker’s top users in Africa to a community workshop in Nairobi. After a long blabla explaining that these people are citizen cartographers, the blog post ends with the following statement “Mapping allows each of us to be a driving force for change and growth in both our immediate communities and the rest of the world. Let’s continue mapping, let’s stay connected through the Map Your World Community, and let’s continue doing amazing things together!”.

At first look it sounds like Google is doing some humanitarian work, but it is if you read the small prints on Google Map Maker that are the following: “By submitting User Submissions to the Service, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, distribute, and create derivative works of the User Submission.”

In plain language this means the data is produced for free by map makers (in this case by people coming from some of the poorest countries in the world) but owned by Google. If there is "change and growth" in that whole program this is in Google's bottom line, not in the life of the local communities. the later would be better mapping their towns and villages with Openstreetmap that is really an open source system and allows for example to print maps (let remind us Internet penetration is around 10% in Africa today) or download and store them to a mobile device.

Let’s make it clear: Google GAAP net income in the third quarter of 2010 was $2.17 billion; however the Mountain View company does not seem to have the money to pay local employees to drive Google’s mapping cars in Africa?

So Google, Shame on you!

Tuesday, November 23rd 2010

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