Roadless Israel in Google Maps Applications
September 26, 2010 Leave a comment
An update: Google has now resolved this problem.
Go to some web site that uses Google Maps to display data (but not maps.google.com itself) and issue a query that returns a location in Israel. Chances are that it will look something like this screen (from QTH locator):
The target of the query, marked by the blue rectangle, looks like the rest of Israel completely roadless. On the right, you can see lots of roads in Jordan. But none in Israel. If you zoom in and enable the satellite imagery, you see that the blue rectangle is in Tel-Aviv, which has plenty of roads:
If you search in the same web site a location in any other country, you will see all the roads. Here is another query from the same web site, which returns a location in the UK, showing both the satellite imagery and the road network:
This happens in pretty much any web site that uses Google Maps. It happens in OpenAPRS, in aprs.fi, in EveryTrail, and in every other Google Maps web application that I came across. They don’t show roads in Israel. It does not matter whether you visit the web site from Israel or from another country. Roads don’t show up. Try it out in your favorite map-enabled web site.
Interestingly, this does not happen if you go to maps.google.com. You can search a location in Israel and you’ll see roads. You can also search for a location outside Israel and drag the map to Israel and you’ll the roads. But only if you go to the maps.google.com.
I assume that this happens because Google licensed the Israeli road network under a restrictive license that does not allow Google to let third-party web site use this data. The licensor probably wanted to retain the ability to charge a fee from every web site that uses the road map. This strategy might work for Israeli web sites some of which might be willing to pay for the mapping service, but it probably fails completely for web sites with a global audience.
Google, please fix this! Maybe you can work a deal in which you provide the Israeli road map to web sites in which the fraction of Israeli visitors is small (and who are therefore unlikely to ever pay the licensor for these maps).