Google’s Michael Jones on Google Map’s Parcel Layer
I had a short discussion with Michael Jones, Google’s chief technology advocate, about the incorporation of the parcel layer in Google Maps. Jones said it was truly nothing more than improving Google’s ability to provide more accurate geocoding. When I discussed the notion that it was integrated so as to increase potential ad revenue from the real estate industry, he dismissed that notion. He conveyed that real estate was a narrow audience in terms of specific searches for commercial or residential information and that was not the intent.
He also mentioned that he believed at some point the supplier of the parcel information would eventually come forward which led me to believe that it was not Google that was suppressing the information about the source.
Why is it important to know the source? I think it’s simply a matter of understanding the intent that either party had by incorporating a data layer that seemed atypical for Google to do. Any more atypical than subsea terrain data? Any more atypical than displaying 3D buildings and their facades? Any more atypical than topographic data? All these data types seemed at one time the purview for applications by the GIS and CAD community but now are seen and used by millions of consumers on an atypical platform; i.e. not a GIS system, and are now being used by developers using the Google Maps API. With every new data type that Google introduces into Maps and Earth more questions arise about "what’s next?" Such as the new real estate listings layer just announced today. According to Mr. Jones, "It is interesting to use the price ranges (more than $20m, say, for expensive houses, or under $20k for inexpensive ones) to create a browseable information surface of the country’s housing demographics."