If you’ve ever tried to navigate around India’s big cities, you’ll probably be grateful to hear that Microsoft’s Live Maps service is now offering maps and directions for India’s nine major cities and the National Road Network.
Maps are scarce, expensive and sometimes not reliable. My understanding was that the government was overly strict about sharing mapping information, partly for security reasons, even though the inability to know where your going is a hindrance to economic development.
So in a place like India, Live Maps is more than just a nifty Web convenience. By putting free maps online, Microsoft’s democratizing this information and making it available to anyone with Web access.
However, it’s just a start. Most of the country still isn’t mapped, and even the big cities have some gaps.
Having been lost trying to reach Microsoft’s India Development Center in Hyderabad, that was the first place I searched after I heard about the maps.
But the big campus isn’t among the businesses listed. A search for Microsoft in Hyderabad shows only the location of offices Microsoft originally leased in the “Hitech City” area near Oracle, Satyam and other big tech companies in the city.
Nor does the map show any of the roads in Hitech City. It just goes blank on the outskirts of city. Maybe the map vendor only had info on older, incorporated areas. Or maybe high-profile institutions aren’t pinpointed because there’s a significant risk of terrorism.
The latter may be the case, because Microsoft doesn’t have the usual aerial photos of the area, either.
Google Maps beats them here, showing more extensive maps, aerial photos and multiple locations for Microsoft’s offices. (It also has a development center in Hyderabad, by the way.)
Google’s aerial of the main campus: