Business

Google Maps fills in the blanks of its North Korea coverage

VERY few North Koreans enjoy an internet connection and those who do are forbidden access to Google, but the web search giant is giving the rest of the world its first glimpse of the framework of the secretive Communist state.

On Monday, Google Maps added a host of new details to its picture of Pyongyang, which was previously little more than a blank space.

Basic infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and subway stops are marked, as are some government buildings. Also visible are the May Day stadium - the world's largest, with a capacity of 150,000 - and the notoriously ugly Ryugyong Hotel, which at 105 storeys is the nation's tallest building.

Beyond the capital, Google has labelled the Yongbyong nuclear site, and four of the country's vast gulags, thought to hold around 200,000 people. The largest, Camp 22, contains features such as a lumber yard, a pharmaceutical factory and a guards' restroom.

The map was constructed with Google's crowd-sourced Map Maker tool. Members of the public submit data, which is fact-checked by the firm before being added to the map. Map Maker was launched in 2008 and has already been used to provide detail to maps of Afghanistan, Burma and Iraq.

The North Korea mapping project has been underway since 2009; it was carried out by volunteers from outside the country, using information that already available online.

Google Maps

 

Jayanth Mysore, senior product manager at Google Map Maker, wrote in a blog post, "While many people around the globe are fascinated with North Korea, these maps are especially important for the citizens of South Korea who have ancestral connections or still have family living there."

Hwang Min-woo, a 28-year-old volunteer from Seoul, told the Wall Street Journal, "I thought if I could fill in information on North Korea, it might be useful in an emergency or a tragedy if Google can provide a map for aid agencies."

Earlier this month, Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt visited Pyongyang as part of a delegation led by the former US ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson. That was soon after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared, in a televised address, that his country's ailing economy could be improved by embracing science and technology.

Though a Google spokesman said that the timing of the new maps after Schmidt's visit was mere coincidence, Schmidt is a staunch believer in the power of the internet to undermine oppressive governments.

In a Google+ post published after his trip, he wrote, "As the world becomes increasingly connected, the North Korean decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world and their economic growth. It will make it harder for them to catch up economically."

Topics:  google, google maps, gps, north korea


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

$4 million announced for Ballina airport expansion

North Coast Nationals MLC Ben Franklin and Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro announced the funding at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport this morning.

Airport among 10 projects to receive vital infrastructure upgrades

New Ballina chamber board looks to the future

The full Ballina Chamber of Commerce board at the Ballina Coast & Hinterland Northern Star Business Excellence Awards in 2015.

A new board have been elected for the Ballina Chamber of Commerce

Bring home the bacon at Northern Rivers festival

PIGS WILL FLY: A giant pig was joined by Alstonville Lions Club’s Les Wiles and Summerland Credit Union’s Belindar Cordery and others to promote this Sunday’s Alstonville Family Festival.

Get piggy at the Alstonville Family Festival

Latest deals and offers

GAME FOR ZANE: Under-18s to honour fallen clubmate

“IT IS one of the most important days for our club. Zane died on the field doing what he loved for the club he loved."

$4 million announced for Ballina airport expansion

North Coast Nationals MLC Ben Franklin and Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro announced the funding at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport this morning.

Airport among 10 projects to receive vital infrastructure upgrades

New Ballina chamber board looks to the future

The full Ballina Chamber of Commerce board at the Ballina Coast & Hinterland Northern Star Business Excellence Awards in 2015.

A new board have been elected for the Ballina Chamber of Commerce

Bring home the bacon at Northern Rivers festival

PIGS WILL FLY: A giant pig was joined by Alstonville Lions Club’s Les Wiles and Summerland Credit Union’s Belindar Cordery and others to promote this Sunday’s Alstonville Family Festival.

Get piggy at the Alstonville Family Festival

Welcome to Northern Rivers’ first golf course of its kind

IT’S OPEN: The Ballina Disc Golf Course at Bicentennial Gardens was officially opened last week by US-born disc golf player Jesse Amos, who pushed for the course, and Ballina Shire councillor Jeff Johnson.

Reports of at least one hole-in-one already

Who wants to be an engineer?

Sparks flly as the laser cutter slices through a 3/4 in sheet of steel at Adnought Sheet metal Fabrications. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin

Calling young people who have thought about an engineering career

The best retro movies of the week? May 27 - June 3

Gregory Peck Photo Contributed

This week TV fan get to see Tom Cruise in a 1980s classics

Barnaby Joyce talks Johnny Depp's dogs in Tweed

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce talks about Johnny Depp's dogs Pistol and Boo...

Road rage caught on Dashcam

Attack with a baseball bat caught on Dashcam

Video of a violent road rage incident in Orange last December.

Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce tour Rockhampton sweet potato farm

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce visit a...

Perfect time to invest in Northern Rivers property

The Northern Rivers rental market is tighter than Sydney making it the perfect time for investors to get better returns out of property than superannuation or banks deposits.

Low interest rates and tight rental market are prime time to invest