Google, the search engine giant has searched out Nigeria. On the first day of it’s just concluded G-Nigeria event held inside the University of Lagos, Akoka main campus, it announced to ICT news journalists; both of the local and foreign media, the launch of it’s latest Google on-line map domain which features a very elaborate and almost detailed navigable map of the country.
The Map presentation made by Christian Miccio; the product manager, had all the thirty-six states and the FCT on it. Further demonstrations by him, displayed notable roads, bridges, companies and local businesses in Lagos. Mr Miccio said the Map held locations and addresses of banks, hospitals, schools, government offices, stadiums and even bus routes! Terrain level and other demographic features were highlighted.
These businesses and company addresses Google says had been uploaded on to the map at no charge at all.
The Google team, however, acknowledges it’s major handicap. “you know this terrain more than we do” says Nelson Mattos, Vice president, Engineering and the keynote speaker at the event “we therefore call on you to help with as much local information as you can”
Mr Miccio told the gathering of participants “when you see a map, you can edit the map by either adding to the map or correcting existing items; for example, names that had been mis-spelt”
Small clouds of fear gathered at this point as Mr. Sumbo Olorunfemi, a participant who spoke to Cyberlife expresses “True, Nigerians can be quite mischievous at times. If the map is open to just about anyone to add or remove information, what stops some disgruntled element from inputting a wrong information or removing a vital one… ” Another participant, Mr Tunji Ladner who is a technology analyst, however, dismisses this. “Yes, we may have to be careful using the tool but that should not be a barrier”
Mr Miccio when asked by this reporter on the issue tried to allay the fears. “We already have a monitoring system in place that checks the authenticity of information added to the map”
Yet, even Mr. Miccio, admits that the map is still developing, although he refuses to be swayed by strong indications it may have been overtaken by competition. He says “Google as a product is not in competition with anyone, we leave that decision to the public to make ”
Participants who had attended the event were encouraged to seize the opportunity to empower themselves financially by helping local companies and businesses all around the country get their companies and business addresses enlisted on the map. They could create their own consultancy services and become local content suppliers just as it is applicable in other developed countries.
In other developments, the keynote speaker, Mr Nelson Mattos, announced plans by Google to inculcate it’s news in the local languages “it will not be easy… help of every one will be needed”
Mr Nyibo Odero, Office Lead, English speaking West Africa, Lagos, also says there are planned activities in the near future to reach out more to the ordinary people.