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Charting our ‘Uncharted’ Territories as a Google Local Guide

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Charting our ‘Uncharted’ Territories as a Google Local Guide

I like to travel and explore new locations but I am yet to go on a trip with a group as solo traveling is something I do a lot. To enjoy that, being able to find new places with ease is really important.

One challenge I usually have with our terrain is mapping. Maps don’t really help me find locations which means, I have to depend on people to find my way around. Sometimes they know where you’re talking about and other times, you find yourself in a completely different location.

On my first ever trip to Lagos back in 2015, all I had to do was download an offline map of Nigeria. HERE Maps was a truly wonderful tool as I couldn’t risk relying on service to be constantly available. The city was so well represented that I found everywhere I needed to go to without really giving up the fact that I was new and unfamiliar with the area.

The following year while in Abuja, I and some friends were relying on the map to get around. Suffice to say that that was a terrible idea. You’d expect it to at least be at par with Lagos but it was not. I haven’t recently used Google Maps in Abuja but with the way my Uber drivers have often missed their way or driven round in circles at the guidance of their maps, I’m not quite certain there’s been that much improvement.

However, I live in Kaduna and the maps are really sparsely populated and the information recorded are sometimes wrongly done. So when I discovered Google Local Guides some months back, I was excited to join the program and provide more data about my city.

The Google local guide is a community driven program where you help people and Google by adding, modifying and reviewing places you visit or have been to. In return, you get benefits based on your contribution. Some of the benefits are – invites to meetups, summits, free Google Drive data and a badge. It is not actually mapping per se, it is contributing to the already existing maps by adding places, comments, information and pictures. It is about rating these places and answering questions about how they are and what they do. It is called crowd sourcing.

Here are the advantages level wise

Level 1: 

  • You get the inside scoop with Google’s monthly newsletter
  • Join Google-hosted workshops and Hangouts
  • In select countries, you’re able to enter into exclusive contests for Local Guides

Level 2: 

  • You get early access to new Google products and features
  • You’re able to promote your own meet-ups on the Local Guides calendar

Level 3: 

  • You can get noticed with your Local Guides badge in Google Maps
  • Be eligible to receive training and promotion of unofficial communities

Level 4: 

  • Receive free Google Drive storage for one year
  • Be eligible to be featured on Google’s official online channels: Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and more

Level 5: 

  • You’ll be eligible for Trusted Testing opportunities — access Google products and features before they are made public
  • You’ll be able to apply to attend our Local Guides Level 5 summit

The benefits are very little but the great thing about it is the chance to provide information and even connect with the community that builds as a result of such activities like the meet-ups.

Here’s my profile as a Level 3 contributor on the platform. I’ve been able to add 21 places which were previously missing. If everyone is able to add missing places to the map, there’ll be a lot more ease to identifying locations around our country.

google local guide

I think it is a great idea for most of our African cities to get proper details from those residing in such locations.

Some people are against the idea and have argued that Google is taking advantage of the people to gather a lot of data but I think a lot of local guides enjoy what they do regardless of incentives. Crowd sourcing for location-based information is best done by locals and speeds up the process sometimes faster than would have been done by a paid employee.

Are you a Local guide, what are your thoughts on ‘mapping’ our cities ourselves? Leave your comments.

A sports and nature lover, art enthusiast and rookie globe trotter. I'm also in love with Africa, tech and politics.

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