The advancement of technology these days has made it possible for us to experience the joys of modern navigation. Gone are the days when we have a map or atlas at hand trying to guess where we are at that moment as many devices today have built-in GPS systems that tell us where we are at. Mapping today has become more powerful as it has gone online, now boosted with features like directional navigation or even 3D views.
This advancement has also led to the rise of a number of online mapping services, which has, unfortunately but inevitably, created a bit more competition and confusion among users. Each service has its own strengths and weaknesses, each having features customers have come to appreciate. It is with this scenario in mind that today, the Urban Roamer will take a look at some of the most popular online mapping services out there, particularly at how they have mapped Metro Manila. Mind you that this does not aim to tell you which is the best, but rather provide an overview of them, as well as my personal impressions. So read on as we will learn about some of them.
Without a doubt, Google Maps is the leading online mapping service in the world due to its widespread use. It is also one of the first to offer features like satellite view, 3D views of some landmarks, not to mention its Street View feature. (not yet widely available in the Philippines though)
Another feature that has made Google Maps popular is that it is a resource that anyone can add or edit information, thanks to Google Mapmaker. Thus information is updated constantly in collaborative manner.
With such resources and experience, Google Maps has been able to map Metro Manila today quite well. You can look at the example below for your reference:
If there is one mapping service that can give Google a run for its money, it would be the sadly overlooked OpenStreetMap. While it does not have some of Google Maps’ fancy features, what makes OpenStreetMap stand out (for me at least) is that it does a better job pointing out boundaries (something Google Maps does not show by default) and landmarks like banks, restaurants, coffee shops, among others. It doesn’t hurt as well if it is more colorful than Google Maps, which not only serves to break the monotony of colors that Google or some other mapping services use but also make identification of places much easier.
Like Google Maps, anyone can also add or edit information here. Personally, I prefer to use it if only for my simple mapping tasks, unless it does not show the specific area I need to look at. But overall, OpenStreetMap’s service has done a pretty good job in mapping the metropolis as shown here:
Wikimapia is a different type of mapping service in that it not only has its own data but it also employs data of other services like Google, OpenStreetMap, and even others services. Thus, users have a range of choices as to which mapping data to use.
In addition, Wikimapia offers more information about the landmarks in the area and has a high engagement as far as collaboration in adding or editing information is concerned. Though in some cases, it does not necessarily mean a good thing. Chances are, you may find a landmark in Wikipedia which describes it as one person’s favorite hangout or someone’sp residence, or someone unknown to the rest of us hated that place. Those useless pieces of information which does not belong in a map.
Another disadvantage of Wikimapia is with the way it highlights landmarks as it tends to clutter the interface and if there are other landmarks found within the bigger landmark, the data gets all jumbled up and you find yourself lost, figuratively.
That being said, Wikimapia is not a bad service as it can serve to fill whatever gaps Google Maps and OpenStreetMap has left. Just be mindful that some of these gaps may not necessary be needed to be filled.
There are other online mapping services on the rise like Bing and Here Maps, but as far as Metro Manila is concerned, there is nothing much to say about them because at this time, the information they provide is not yet as extensive as the two I mentioned. In the case of Bing and Here, I suppose the primary (if not the only) reason they are used is because they are the default mapping service for an internet browser and a mobile phone brand.
Nevertheless, they offer some potential but they need to add more data before they can be used widely for Metro Manila. Until that happens, the Urban Roamer recommends using either of the two services. You don’t have to take my word for it, but I hope this entry would be of help.