Thursday, March 05, 2009

Caucasus Exceptionalism in Google Maps

While this post is not directly related to social sciences, maps have lots of great social science applications. You can map all kinds of data. One example of this is the Funnel the Money Project.

We keep waiting for Google maps to come out with more data on the Caucasus including basic regional divisions and roads. You see, the Caucasus is a blank slate, except for settlement names.

At first we wondered if this was just a regional thing, so we looked at Turkey. There the data is magnificent. Regional boundaries, and even minor roads are there all the way up to the Georgian border.

Then, we thought it might be a post-Soviet thing. So we looked at Russia. North Ossetia even has good maps similar to Turkey's.

Well, maybe it's just the southern tier of the Former Soviet Union, we thought. However, to our surprise, we saw that Kyrgyzstan (and all of Central Asia) for that matter had road data and Bishkek was even outlined. Sure, it wasn't as good as Turkey or Russia (there were not regional boundaries), but it was significantly better than the Caucasus.

Then we started thinking about the poorest and most war torn of states. Maybe they didn't have road data or other geographic boundaries.

Yet lo and behold, Afghanistan's roads are clearly marked -- though regions aren't.

What about Somalia? Roads again.

Or East Timor? Well, there is only one road, but I am not sure how many there are in the country. Though this map shows more roads.

Finally, we cruised the entire world. The Caucasus are the only three countries without road data.

We know that this data exists for the Caucasus. So, what's up Google?


Hans said...

Thanks for posting this, I have this for 2 years on my mind ! Best regards, Hans

Anonymous said...

Googleblog claims, unconvincingly, that they were never happy with the available road data.

Hans said...

Google did not know about the old but exact Soviet Military Maps ?

new liberals said...

maybe there are no roads to mention

Anonymous said...

Yes, when I have to present Georgia somewhre I usually do maps (drawings) myself. Thanks heaven I'm an architect. I fail to find any relaible map of Georgia on internet. Thanks for raising up for discussion this problem.

Hans said...

Hello Nino, exactly I also use to make these little drawings, its so easy in fact if one takes the orientation between Black and Caspian Sea, between Russia, Turkey, Persia

I started even an artistic map series here:

Best regards, Hans

Grig Nor said...

Wikimapia have desent maps on the area. you can go down to houses on several places.

This link is for the places on the southern shore of Lake Sevan in Armenia.

AaronE said...

Interestingly, Armenia and Azerbaijan road data have now been published. The data is fairly comprehensive.

Georgia, however, is still missing.

I wonder how we could get Google to know about the old Soviet maps -- though some of those roads hardly exist anymore.

Hans said...

Wow Aaron, great, thank you for the Baku-Yerevan-Update ! Best regards, Hans