Google Maps adds streets, prison camps in North Korea

Published January 29, 2013

| The Wall Street Journal

Google on Tuesday revised its Google Maps application to add information for North Korea, which has been blank since it started providing maps online and for mobile devices eight years ago, and included outlines of some of the country's notorious, city-sized prison camps.

The information for the North Korea map was added by people who are interested in the country under a Google development program called Map Maker, a collaborative effort that has become known as crowdsourcing.

The release came just three weeks after Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited North Korea in a highly-publicized trip with former American diplomat Bill Richardson. Mr. Schmidt encouraged officials he met in North Korea to make the Internet available to its citizens and end its attempts to restrict information.

A company spokesman said there was no connection between the visit and the new map.

"This data has been in Map Maker for a while now, but it commonly takes the Map Maker community a few years to generate enough high quality data to make something that works in Google Maps," the spokesman said.

He added that Google has relied on "citizen cartographers" to help it create maps in 150 countries and have made huge contributions in places where governments have done little mapping—such as Afghanistan.

Read more about Google's new maps data at The Wall Street Journal.

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