Lost on Road to Angkor? Ask Google

Google maps, the cartographic tool from the Internet search giant Google, now offers driving directions in Cambodia and 17 other nations, from Albania to Vietnam, the company announced.

The directions are based on map information contributed by users of the company’s “map maker” service, a sort of “Wikipedia for maps,” according to Google’s Singapore-based spokesman Dickson Seow.

“Cambodia is a good example of where there isn’t a third party with very reliable information for mapping,” Mr Seow said yesterday. “Map maker was set up as a platform for people to contribute to building an online map.”

Mr Seow added that Google can’t vouch for the accuracy of its maps of Cambodia.

Yesterday, the navigation service provided accurate directions between two addresses in central Phnom Penh as well as between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap city, and between the capital and Preah Sihanouk province.

However, it could not give a route from Phnom Penh to the provincial capitals of Stung Treng or Koh Kong.

Mr Seow, who acknowledged there will be gaps in the Cambodia service, said Google Maps will continue to add new information from users.

Or, as software engineer Vishwajith Krishnamurthy wrote in last week’s Google announcement: “As always, these are your maps–in case you don’t find a road, a turn or one-way is incorrect in your neighborhood, you can map it at mapmaker.google.com.”

In Cambodia, one user alone has made more than 18,000 contributions to the Google map service, the largest amount. The contributor did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Mr Seow praised the power of Google for putting Cambodia, as they say, on the map, citing benefits to domestic tourism and business, among other sectors that should benefit.

When asked about the possible effects of new Google’s navigation service for Cambodia, Ho Vandy, co-chair of the tourism working group in the government-private sector forum, said it might be useful to visitors.

“If Google provides this information, it could help a lot for visitors,” he said. “Because [it will be] easy to arrange your trip before you arrive in this country.”


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