During its Maps event today Google announced several new Google Maps features. Until now we’ve usually needed a Wi-Fi or 3G connection to access Google Maps. Today, Google said it’s taking Google Maps offline, which means you won’t need a signal to view maps. Better yet: the GPS and compass will still work if they are still turned on and users will still be able to zoom in or pan around maps without having to wait for a load time. The feature will launch soon on Google Maps for Android.
The company also went over several other initiatives it’s taking on inside its headquarters.
Google’s vice president of engineering Brian McClendon said that it MapMaker technology, which is the underlying element in Google Maps and was first launched in 2008, is launching in two new countries: South Africa and Egypt. Ten other countries are also launching later this month, McClendon said. He also explained that Google’s Street View has driven more than 5 million miles and gathered more than 20 petabytes of data. The company also now provides maps for 126 countries with 26 million miles of road.
Google’s Rebecca Moore, engineering manager of “Google Maps for Good,” also took the stage and showed how Google works with its partners to help in emergency situations. She explained how Google provided maps to the U.S. Air Force to save more than 4,000 lives after Hurricane Katrina hit. From, that Google launched Google Outreach in order to help other partners around the globe. Moore said in 2008 she helped a tribe in the Amazon learn how to use Google Earth to keep track of their territory and track illegal logging around their property.
Moore announced that the Halo Trust is also today unveiling “Explore A Minefield” which uses Google Earth to “track land mind clearance operations.” The group marks areas that are cleared and labels other areas that still need to be cleaned up. After clearing mines in Afghanistan, Halo Trust said more than 70,000 people were able to return home. Operations are also ongoing in Cambodia and several other locations around the world.