The Philippines hosts a Maps for preparation of natural disasters

This summer, a group of Filipino mapping enthusiasts organized an impressive series of Google MapUps throughout the Philippines. The events brought together Google Map Maker mappers across the country to map their communities in preparation of natural disasters. Located in the western Pacific typhoon belt, the Philippines is struck by an average of 20 tropical cyclones every year. As demonstrated by the 2009 Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma), which left much of Metro Manila underwater, the storms are both persistent and devastating.

The extensive series of Summer MapUps was organized by mappers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao after meeting at the Google Geo User Summit in Singapore. Following in the footsteps of super mapper Rally de Leon, who mapped extensively after the 2009 typhoons, this summer of MapUps was designed as a volunteer project for the Philippine Red Cross. The objective was to map places used during crisis, including health centers, government offices, gymnasiums and public schools used for evacuation.

All of the schools (left) and hospitals (right) in the Philippines, as mapped on Google Map Maker.
The events kicked off in the Mindanao region, with MapUps in Malaybalay, Bukidnon and General Santos City. Northern Luzon followed with a MapUp in the City of Pines, Baguio City. Baguio City was hit by a devastating earthquake a decade ago, which took the lives of over a thousand people. Volunteers wanted to make sure that they tagged important places, such as evacuation relocation sites, that would help in rescue and relief.

MapUps in Iloilo City, Metro Manila, Zamboanga and Cebu City followed. Zamboanga mappers focused on Zamboanga Peninsula, one of the least mapped areas in the Philippines. The Cebu City volunteer mappers were geology students from University of the Philippines Visayas Cebu College. They enjoyed tagging, moderating and editing data, and vowed to continue mapping to complete the Cebu map.


Even though summer is over in the Philippines, we will still continue to add map data using Google Map Maker as an effort to help the Philippine Red Cross. If you are interested in hosting a MapUp in your neighborhood, or have other great mapping ideas, be sure to visit Map Makerpedia, which brings together lessons, tutorials and use cases from around the world.

The new Google Maps 5.8 for Android changes

Yestarday, Google Maps 5.8 for Android improves Places and Latitude with:

  • Upload photos for a Place
  • My Places as a simple way to manage the Places you’ve starred and recently viewed
  • Descriptive terms for Places in search results
  • Add a new Place on-the-go when checking in

Photo upload for a Place

When deciding on a place to go, people often want to know what a place looks like in addition to seeing ratings and reviews. You can now contribute photos to help others get a sense of places. You can now attach your photos to Places, and yours may even become the profile picture for that page. If you want to view or delete any photos you’ve contributed to Places, you can manage uploaded photos in the “Photos for Google Maps” album on your Picasa account.

Left: Uploading pictures to a place. Right: Photos in Android Gallery
My Places and descriptive terms for mobile


In June we announced descriptive terms and ‘My Places’ for the desktop. Both these features are now in Google Maps for mobile. Descriptive terms appear in search results for Places to inform you what businesses are ‘known for,’ such as their ‘eggs benedict’ or being ‘worth the wait.’

Also, My Places for mobile provides quick access to starred and recent Place pages you’ve looked at. You can access My Places by pressing your phone’s menu button while in Google Maps.
Add a new Place ‘on-the-go’ for check-ins


If you’re out and about and want to check in, we want to make sure you can quickly add a new Place to check into if one isn’t available. This might happen for new businesses or those that haven’t set up a Place page yet. For example, let’s say you’re at Xoogle Xtreme Sports, a new sports shop in your neighborhood. You go to check in but don’t see Xoogle in the list of places to check into and when you do a search still nothing comes up.
To solve this, you’ll now see an “Add place” option at the bottom of suggested places. Select that option, and you’ll be prompted to confirm the name and location of the new place. Then a brand new place is added (and you’re checked in). This place will be available for you and others to check into from Latitude, but will not appear as a search result in Google Maps or Google Places.


We’ve also added ‘Bigger text’ to our experimental Labs features and ‘Download map area’ has been renamed ‘Pre-cache map area.’

To start using Google Maps 5.8 for Android, download the update here. This update requires an Android OS 2.1+ device and can be used anywhere Google Maps is currently available. Learn more in our help center.

Descriptive Terms in Google Local Search Results

Whether it’s to find a great place for dinner or to grab a cup of coffee, I often look up places directly on Google Maps. Evaluating my options and making a choice just got even easier thanks to the list of associated terms that now appears directly in the local search results.

Starting today, Google Maps search results in the U.S. and Great Britain will include some of the phrases which are most frequently used to describe those places. These phrases come from sources all across the web, such as reviews, web pages and other online references, and they can help people quickly identify the characteristics that make a particular place unique. It’s like an opportunity to ask the business owner or its patrons “What’s good here?” or “What do most people get here?”

For example, if I’m looking for a place to relax and enjoy a great cup of coffee this weekend, I can see at a quick glance that Cafe Grumpy could be the perfect spot. Besides being known for their “latte” and “great coffee,” they have a “no laptop” policy — exactly what I was hoping for since I’d like to unplug and take a break from work this weekend.

Or if I’m planning to visit friends on the west coast and need to organize a night out, Rose & Crown could be an excellent choice given their “great beer selection” and “trivia night” games on site!

Whether you’re looking for local businesses in your neighborhood or in another city, these descriptive terms can help you find the places right for you. We hope you use these terms to discover new and interesting places on Google Maps, and watch for this feature to appear in Place search on and Google Maps for mobile soon!