Google Maps

Out of Africa


There is a great story behind this map, which illustrates why the Geospatial Industry is just so exciting at the moment, and hints at the potential of the geoweb as a global phenomenon.

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.

8 replies on “Out of Africa”


How about the rest of the story? Did Google commission (pay for) this work? Does AND or Europa own the data? Or does Google? If Google is driving/funding updated data for parts of the globe, that’s a pretty important development.


Bit off topic…
Ive been a GIS Consultant for past 5 years now with range of skills (mainly ESRI based). I want to do some travelling but dont want the gap on my CV.

Any ideas on where to find GIS jobs (voluntary or paid) in countries such as Africa?

Good to see GI moving on. The question has got to be “how will it be used?”. Kenya, is a country of extremes, and that is easily illustrated in the new Google maps offering.

Open Google maps, and search on Nairobi. To the south of the balloon you’ll see a label for Kibera. Drag this to the centre, zoom in a notch, and then turn on the imagery. Welcome to the Kibera Slum, one of the largest & worst in the world. Zoom on the lake to the south-east – it’s completely polluted with the effluent from the slum. You can live like a king on Nairobi – or starve, all within a few meters of each other.

My hope for the GI community is that the investment made in compiling this new mapping can be used to help in places such as Kibera. Does this generation of geographers have a John Snow, someone who is prepared to map the issues and initiate action to reduce problems from foul water and surface sewerage?

There are countless charities out there, one I am associated with is Turning Point They do a great job, but they need more people, time, money, resources and skills. Maybe Google could invest in not only the data, but the people as well? Your call Ed.


I agree there are still massive problems in many african nations, and there is only so much technology can do.. but getting techbnology into the hands of the locals who can use it is a start.

Don’t forget what you see on this map is the product of local people building a very necessary piece of national infrastructure themselves..

We always talk that we need maps, then only can we bring out a solution. One gr8 thing about the Google phenomenon is that ‘we now have maps’.

But the next big problem that we all know and Simon mentions is that “someone who is prepared to map the issues and initiate action to reduce problems from foul water and surface sewerage?”..AND YES WE NEED ACTION MORE THAN ANY THING ELSE ( Because we have been taking about the use of maps and Earth Observation data for so long).
The Google Earth Outreach is one of those initiatives from Google – and I guess Ed can talk about that more…

I wonder how they mapped the cities. Seems like they used maps rather than people in the field. When you look at the edges of the cities, all of a sudden you the streets stop and the streets have no names.

Or is the map just not finished??


You got it right. The base map seem to have been developed from scanned maps. However, the POI’s may have been collected on the field.

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