Google is witnessing a huge surge in the number of people using its custom mapmaking tool, My Maps, during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Google, there have been nearly 3 billion creations, edits, and views in My Maps between December 2019 and April 2020. In the same time period last year, that number was only 2 billion.
Launched in 2007, My Maps allows users to create their own custom maps on top of Google Maps. With a simple drag-and-drop interface, you can add placemarks, draw lines and shapes, and embed text, photos, and videos. Publishing the map publicly is also pretty simple. You can share the map via public URL or embed it on websites for others to see.
“With My Maps, anyone can be a cartographer,” Chris Herwig, Technical Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach, points out. “In the past few months, we have seen how powerful this small set of relatively simple features can be. People are using My Maps to be forces for good and coordinate relief efforts. Map by map, people are connecting each other to resources for caring for ourselves and others, while staying healthy and informed.”
Using Google My Maps amid COVID-19
People are using My Maps for everything from mapping hand-washing and hygiene stations to visualizing information about school lunch pick-up spots. Here are 10 impressive ways Google My Maps is being used by communities around the world:
1. Massachusetts’ Child Nutrition Outreach Program is using My Maps to help families find sites serving meals to children and teens during school closures:
2. A Maldives citizen created a helpful map that displayed local shops, pharmacies, and food businesses by zone, and received appreciation from the local police:
3. The National Transit Agency of Ecuador is using My Maps to help truck drivers moving food across the country find disinfection points, gas stations, mechanics, and other resources to help them on their journey:
4. Taiwan’s CDC has used Google My Maps to visualize the traces of confirmed patients in their contact tracing website:
5. Urban Roots, a community-led environmental charity in Scotland, has been collaborating with the Glasgow Community Food Network map to direct people to food banks and free meals in Glasgow:
6. In the Philippines, the Department of Transportation is using My Maps to map free hospital shuttle service routes for COVID-19 medical frontliners:
7. The Wyoming Department of Family Services created a My Map to guide essential personnel like police officers, doctors, and nurses to childcare facilities for their children whose schools have closed:
8. In Australia, the New South Wales Ministry of Health has created a map of public COVID-19 clinics up and running across New South Wales:
9. Librarians across Mississippi have teamed up to create a map of parking-lot Wi-Fi access points:
10. Andy Jeffrey, a freelance developer from London, has developed a map with links and contact details for coronavirus support services, charity organizations and mutual aid groups in North London:
Are you also using Google My Maps to aid in COVID-19 management and mitigation efforts? Tell us your story in the comments!