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Google Maps, Local Expand To UK 373

Posted by timothy
from the well-it's-about-thames dept.
Koushiro writes "From Google's official blog comes word that Google Maps UK and Google Local UK have been launched, confirming speculations that the search engine giant would continue to expand its regional services to an international audience. The seemingly logical next step, of course, would be to expand coverage to Western Europe, but given the input Google's UK office had into this project, can we expect Google Maps India next?"
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Google Maps, Local Expand To UK

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  • by philbowman (707419) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:06AM (#12290737)
    Mr Kilroy-Silk will be pleased. Just go look at Britain, and zoom right out ([-] button). Look - no Europe! Just us Brits and our American fiends.
  • Satellite (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    But no Satellite mapping as yet... Still playing catchup.
  • by Darkon (206829) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:06AM (#12290739)

    It even found my local chippy [google.co.uk]. Go Google!
    • by antdude (79039)
      Are those colored freeways for traffic speed status? I have never seen those in U.S. maps especially in Southern CA area.
      • by timthorn (690924) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:44AM (#12290853)
        The colour is for the road status - in the UK we have motorways (eg M1, M25), other trunk roads (A class and B class, eg A41 or B4096), and other roads. Motorways are usually blue, A roads usually red or green, and B roads usually orange. Motorways are almost all 70mph, A roads vary from 40 to 70, and B roads from 30 to 60.

        The road numbering started out as loosely based on which direction from London the road heads. The M1 goes north from London, as does the A1. The A11 is a bit further around, the A110 further still. I'm sure there's a website somewhere that explains the numbering better.

        • Ahhh thanks!
        • "I couldn't find the freeway and had to take some little back road called the M5"

          Green A roads are Trunk route and maintainance is paid by the Highways agency (I think) rather than the local councils.

          More on the speed (only for cars lorrys, busses, caravans etc. have lower limits). Road type doesn't matter.

          Motorways are always 70mph unless signposted.

          The Speed limit in urban areas (having street lighting not more than 200 yards apart) is 30mph unless signposted.

          Outside urban areas:

          Dual Carrageways are
        • by m50d (797211) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:53AM (#12291376) Homepage Journal
          They're numbered in a spiral out from London. The A1 goes north to edinburgh along the east coast, A2 into kent, A3 south to portsmouth, A4 to wales and A5 to Birmingham, with the A6 going north to Edinburgh (historically) by the west coast. Then the A7 goes south from Edinburgh to meet the A6, the A8 goes west to Glasgow, and the A9 north to Inverness. Then coming back to London we have the A10 up to Cambridge, the A11 out towards Norwich, A12 to Ipswich, A13 out to Chelmsford, A14 confusingly elsewhere, but then A15 going more southerly and so on until we get to A69, all of these starting gradually further from the dome of St Paul's which is taken as the centre of London. After this the A70-A99 are numbered in a spiral from Edinburgh, A100-699 from London and so on. The green ones are primary routes, in rare cases B roads can also be green roads, and link up a set of "primary destinations". Generally these are straighter and faster roads than the red ones, with more service stations, etc. B roads (which are normally yellow rather than orange) are numbered similarly, but motorways are different, instead taking the number of the nearby A road. Thus there are plenty of gaps in the motorway numbering, for example there is an M20 but no M19, and the M5 starts nowhere near London, it's just long and vaguely near the A5. Also, when an A road is upgraded to a motorway it keeps its name, just with a (M) afterwards, so we have the A1(M) for large sections of the A1 route.
  • Type in: "My Job"

    And it goes to New Delhi...

    Wow, those google people are so smart.

  • Not only the UK (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:16AM (#12290765)
    But Ireland as well.
    • Cool. I'm going to Ireland this summer. I'll be in Westport, on the Atlantic coast, and last time I was there there was this really great pub... let's see if it can be found.

      tactactac... Pubs in Westport...

      Ah, lots! But all in New York... Is it a bad idea to attempt to swim the Atlantic after a hard night on the Guinness?

    • Re:Not only the UK (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shreevatsa (845645)
      But IIRC, (part of) Ireland is in the UK. Doesn't UK stand for "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"?
      • northern ireland is a separate country from ireland (EIRE).

        northern ireland is part of "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", not Ireland (Ireland uses the Euro instead of sterling, and they are completely separate now).
        • Re:Not only the UK (Score:5, Informative)

          by Finuvir (596566) <<rparle> <at> <soylentred.net>> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:09AM (#12291133) Homepage
          Ireland is the name of the island, which includes Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (a seperate nation). The Republic of Ireland is officially called Ireland (in English) or Eire (in Irish). The name "Republic of Ireland" is its official description for use in contexts where the distinction between the nation and the island (both named Ireland) is necessary to avoid ambiguity.

          So yes, part of Ireland (the island) is in the UK. None of Ireland (the country) is in the UK.
    • Re:Not only the UK (Score:2, Informative)

      by derek_m (125935)
      Well, not really Maps are there for all of Ireland, but the search functionality appears to only cover Northern Ireland - so far at least.
      • The search function works in Ireland, as long as you're only passing through. You can plot a route from a mainland city to Belfast, no problem, and if appropriate you'll get a boat to Dublin and a neatly planned route through the Republic... but if your destination happens to be Dublin, you're out of luck.
  • Canada (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mincognito (839071) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:17AM (#12290766)
    "expand its regional services to an international audience" Canada isn't the U.S. you know.
    • Re:Canada (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Canada (Score:2, Funny)
      "expand its regional services to an international audience" Canada isn't the U.S. you know.


      Yeah, laughter is the usual reaction when you point that out to Americans.

      The same education is behind New Mexico needing to add USA to their license plates.

      There are a lot of intelligent Americans, but just not the percentage there should be.
    • Re:Canada (Score:4, Funny)

      by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:49AM (#12290870)
      Have they sold Canada? To whom?
  • SMS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Big Mark (575945) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:18AM (#12290769)
    • Re:SMS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:58AM (#12290890)
      Bugger me. Well, that's the end of the great British pub quiz, then... I think we have to just accept it now. Google is on course to evolve into an Overmind and rule the world. Suddenly I've got an information source in my pocket that makes the Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy look feeble...
  • Pah! (Score:4, Funny)

    by veeoh (444683) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:20AM (#12290773) Homepage
    No "houses of ill repute", or "ladies of negotiable affection" near me - useless damn site!

  • by trash eighty (457611) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:22AM (#12290781) Homepage
    very nice though several newish roads (2-3 years old by now) near me arn't on the maps.
  • by iainl (136759) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:40AM (#12290843)
    On the one hand, it knows about the mighty Hings [google.co.uk], the Food of the Gods. On the other, I'm more than a little disturbed by the Google ad that 'helpfully' suggests I could find cheaper Fish & Chips on eBay. Doesn't really bear thinking about, that one.
  • by andrewbirkett (23898) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:44AM (#12290852) Homepage
    In the UK, most maps use the British Grid projection. Google, in their international wisdom, appear to have used a different projection which causes the map to "appear wrong" to a UK person. Actually, the map is perfectly correct, it's just that Google are presenting it in a way which is not customary for the UK.

    For example, try a search for postcode "EH1" on http://maps.google.co.uk, and the same on www.multimap.co.uk. Notice that the shape of the quarter-circle road system (Princes St, Melville Drive, the Bridges) is different on each.
    • It looks to me like what has gone wrong with "EH1" is that the multimap version is a genuine map (it looks to me like a regular Ordnance Survey map) whereas the google version is just an air photograph coloured in: it looks wrong because it is wrong, because it's been taken from an angle. I suppose they couldn't afford to pay for proper map data, so they just paid some people in India to trace over the roads on some photos they took from a plane or satellite.
      • I have to say I think that their maps are a damnsight easier to read by not being ordnance survey maps ... the way they colour everything is very clean, and makes things a lot clearer.

        just my tuppence worth ;-)
        • Sorry, I *love* Ordnance Survey map. They certainly are not idea street maps (the scale is wrong for a start - zoom in on Multimap for a street map).

          They just are so fantastically detailed. Look at this map [multimap.com] of Mount Snowdon. You can almost visualise the mountains. It's quite amazing to be able to figure out which rock outcrop your arse is currently sitting on. It's certainly very usefull to have the gradient lines....
    • Well, maybe that international wisdom is worth something?

      I mean, they will eventually cover continental Europe too. Then would you like to have different services for the UK and rest of Europe? Or maybe you're thinking rest of Europe should use the British Grid too ;)

    • From memory... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by aug24 (38229) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @09:21AM (#12291582) Homepage
      The OS here (whom I worked for till last September or so) use a double-orthogonal approach. That is, they flatten left and right sides of the country relative to their respective centre lines, then marry the two images. This makes measurement errors smaller.

      International maps tend to use a simple Mercator projection.

      Someone from the OS will hopefully be along shortly to correct my terminology... Nigel T? Dave R? Are you reading?

      Justin.
    • by redbaron7 (577469)
      It is worse than that. It looks like their postcode database was in OS GR coordinates (good), which they converted to lat,long; but used the new coords as if they are WGS84 and not Airy36. This results in errors of a few hundred metres. I've mailed them point out the error.
  • by cOdEgUru (181536) * <cherian...abraham@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:46AM (#12290859) Homepage Journal
    Not due to the lack of attempt, just that mostly directions meant (when I was growing up) was : "Go Straight for two kilometres, turn right at the Junction with the Statue and then one mile ahead take a left by the Cricket Stadium". Not something you want to pull up on Google!

    In the Rural areas of the country and even in the suburbs of some major metropolitan areas, the above method will apply.

    Rarely are there Street names. But it doesnt really matter as men arent embarassed to ask for directions :)
    • It could be worse [penny-arcade.com] :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The main problem with starting a service like this in India would be keeping it up to date. Have you seen the latest Eicher and TTK maps? Most of them are, at least, 3 years outdated. Even those of the cities.

      75% of the country is rural, so the high level of detail is quite impossible. Most cities are under construction all the time, so details keep changing. Been to hyderabad lately? Those guys are going crazy with flyovers. It's not just minor roads either. National Highways (B'lore-Hyd, NH4 I think) are
    • by swiftstream (782211) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @09:28AM (#12291632)
      It is like this in other places, as well--or even worse! I lived in Nicaragua for three years, and in the capital they gave directions by referring to places that had been destroyed thirty years earlier, in the earthquake of '72!

      "What? The American school? Oh, right, it's right behind [such and such building]"

      "Where's that?"

      "Uh, well, it got destroyed in the earthquake, but if you drive three blocks east toward the lake, then turn south..."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Speaking as a geographer/cartographer, I've found Google Maps exceedingly useful. But a few things to note, applying both to the UK and the US sites.

    --Data resolution is far from uniform. We see every little street in central London, but go to northern Scotland and only (relatively) major roads show up.

    --The engine is less than wonderful when it comes to choosing the most important towns to identify on the maps at various scales. The base view identifies the Edinburgh neighborhood of Dunfermline, rather
  • by Aphrika (756248) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @06:51AM (#12290874)
    If you go to the maps.google.com [google.com], zoom right out and switch to satellite view, you can scroll over to the right where the UK is and hey presto satellite views!

    It's not complete yet and only zooms halfway in before you're notified it's incomplete, but it should definitely be something to look forward to.
    • On that zoom level, they have satellite views for the whole world. But if you try to zoom in a bit (zoom level 6 of 15), you get the message "We're sorry, but we don't have imagery at this zoom level for this region. Try zooming out for a broader look."
  • Although I am a google fan, I have been using for quite some time the Map24 [map24.com] page after someone in /. pointed at it. I find it quite useful and the interface is pretty cool (Real time map find using Java or No Java option.

    I find it quite useful to look for places in Europe when going to a conference or vacations, that and the HostelWorld [www.hostelworld] are pretty cool pages, now, there is something I have seen no Map page do, that is, to add Bus line information to the maps, I know in some countrys it would be rather di
    • It could be done for all public transport in the UK, I believe. All transport authorities are required to maintain timetable information in ATCO CIF format. This is capable of carrying dynamic information (e.g. a late-running bus) as well as static timetables, but I'm not sure how widely this is implemented.
  • If you find a route between two locations that includes motorway travel, there's no indication of the junction number when leaving a motorway.

  • India? (Score:2, Informative)

    by illuvator (135209)
    After getting lost in Haryana once, I figured out that most roads here do not have names, and even if they do, no one is quite sure where they go...

    You could probably map the "official" areas of big cities like Delhi or Mumbai, but forget about the slums or village India.
    • Re:India? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by The Cydonian (603441)
      *sigh*. Third time I'm pointing out in this thread, but imagine driving through Harayana with a decent-resolution *satellite* map that you've just downloaded off your 3G mobile phone. You probably wouldnt have gotten lost! :-)

      The point being, I'd disagree with the notion that India is not ready for Google Maps. On the contrary, I think countries like India are a perfect market for a web-based satellite atlas that Google Maps effectively is.

  • Yes! Yours Truly steals a march on /.
    I reported on this in my Internet column for the local newspaper on Monday.
    Bugger that it comes out on Thursday, thus making it look (once again) that I simply lift my article from /. posts.
    OK, so it's karma as it's true most of the time.
    Have to hope that most of my readers don't regularly check /. or the BBC's tech section.
  • I'd give my eye'd teeth for that service with Ordnance Survery Maps [ordnancesurvey.co.uk] available as well. Just imagine a free, scrollable zoomable Ordnance Survey map mmmm.

    Of course they are useless as street maps, but ideal for just about everything else (yes I know you can pay for online Ordnance Survey maps)
  • by jabuzz (182671) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:38AM (#12291007) Homepage
    Frankly I will be sticking with streetmap.co.uk, multimap.com and the OS's own website that have the highly detailed, instantly recognizable to anyone from the U.K. Ordnance Survey 1:50000 and 1:25000 topographic maps of Great Britain on them. They also have the easily recognisable Bartholomew and OS road atlas maps. In comparison the TeleAtlas road maps suck.
    • You can't zoom in to see street names on the OS website tho'.

      Google Maps has the advantage of UI over many other sites (which, IMHO, is the main reason Google's offerings do well).
  • Map24 and Google (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheIdaho (856565)
    It seems to me that its no coincidence that Map24 is also a good service - if you check their home page www.uk.map24.com then they are announcing a collaboration with Google. Methinks this is where Google got their map data from, and perhaps some of the software.
  • Missing places (Score:4, Informative)

    by AndrewRUK (543993) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:46AM (#12291033)
    It's nice, but it's missing quite a lot of places - try searching for the Millennium Stadium (in Cardiff), the National Exhibition Centre (Birmingham), Bristol Temple Meads station, Birmingham New Street station, Edinburgh Waverly station or Cardiff Central station (I tried stations because it gave Paddington as an example and they have unique names, so it should be easy for it to find them if it knows about them.)
  • by nagora (177841)
    Northern Ireland seems a bit blank outside of Belfast - there's no streets in Bangor, for example, despite it being a town of 60-80000 people (depending on who you believe). Mind you, Multipmap's NI maps are from 1970, so it's debatable which is worse.

    TWW

  • by hey! (33014)
    I still can't find "Ottery St. Catchpole" :-(
  • by rogueuk (245470) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:47AM (#12291333) Homepage
    it's nice that in london [google.co.uk], it shows the tube stations right on the map.

    It doesn't do this for the metro, in DC [google.com] for instance. That would definitely be a useful feature to have when planning trips and the like
  • by drwho (4190) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @02:05PM (#12294342) Homepage Journal
    4 Privet Drive, Little Whingling, Surrey doesn't work! But hey, you get strange results when you try to map Hogwarts, try it.

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