Google Maps is an application and service partially built on the data provided by the users, or customers, of the service. Google’s travel times and traffic updates are crowdsourced from Google and Android users, as the system uses data collected from peoples’ device movements and processed in order to establish how people are moving around. This information is then fed back into Maps and may also be used to provide estimated travel time, too. Whilst the location and travel sensing technologies are an opt-in service, there is one way that Google rely on direct user action: reviews.
Google Maps’ reviews are designed to help people decide where to go and how to spend their time. When we visit a location, we are able to rate and review using Google Maps. The rating is a simple star score between one to five and a review is a free text box. We do not need to review just restaurants or coffee shops, but reviews can be done for anywhere that is recognized as a place by Google Maps. Reviews appear when searching for a business using the Google Search engine and may provide valuable insight into a particular destination, business, coffee shop or similar. However, whilst Google has run the review service for some time, there has been little encouragement for customers to write reviews. This may be about to change as a Reddit user, maroonmushroom, received an offer for 1 TB of Google Drive storage free for two years providing a prerequisite is met: the user needs to be a rank four Local Guide for Google Maps.
If you are unfamiliar with the Local Guide scheme run by Google Maps, this is a system whereby Google rewards customers for their direct help with updating, maintaining, reviewing and rating businesses and places on Google Maps. Users can earn up to five points per establishment, which includes writing a review, adding photographs, answering questions about a place, adding new destinations and fixing out of date information. In order to obtain level four, one needs to gain two hundred points – which is not especially difficult to accomplish, and should help Google Maps improve the quality of their data. However, on the subject of the data quality, one potential issue with this sort of offer is that Google may find the quality of information provided by customers is poor, as people are simply filling as many points as they can in order to obtain $240 worth of Drive storage.