Monday, December 17, 2007

Google Maps doesn't know Israel?

I was surprised when I tried locating some Israeli cities for a history course and noticed that Google Maps is noticeably lacking any info on Israel. Both Google Maps and Microsoft Live Maps know that Jaffa (formerly an ancient city and battle site of the Crusades) is now a neighborhood in Tel Aviv.

What Google Maps fails to display are the many roads and other towns in Israel. I kept zooming out, looking for any detail, until I eventually saw the national border. Funny that surrounding countries have highways and cities marked, but Israel has absolutely nothing.

I did another search and found various theories regarding Google and the Israeli government. In fact, there is a 1997 US law specifically forbidding US operators from make hi-res aerial images of Israel (and only Israel) available. Apparently there have been issues with hi-res (>2m resolution) images of Israel for 2 years or so, but this is the first time I've noticed regular map features missing. Curious that Google chose to block information that is freely available at other online locations and any map store or atlas.

I guess my biggest concern is the transparency or rather lack of it. It makes me wonder about the motives and reliability of other Google resources. Bottom line: check multiple sources to verify your data.

1 comment:

Halfsteel said...

its interesting...the lack of it.