Google are anti-semitic!

Well, probably not – I just wanted to put a sensationalist headline once 🙂

What I’m really annoyed about is that Google Maps have no information on Israel – not cities, roads, nothing – even Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv aren’t listed. At the time, I’ve put it down to Google having no information at all for the entire region and I thought that they will probably fix this in due course.

And they did – sorta, as you can see in the screenshot below:
Google Maps details of Israel
(From Google Maps)

I don’t mind much the fact that Google marks the “borders” of the “west-bank” and “Gaza strip”, and has special markings for the truce-lines in the Golan, or even the fact that they mark the the “border” of the golan (which was never an internationally accepted border, unlike the “border” of Gaza).

I’m talking about the complete lack of detail! They could have at least marked some major cities – Google’s map search knows where Tel-Aviv and Haifa are located if you search for them (or click the link above under the picture). And Aqaba is clearly marked on the map even though Eilat isn’t. Even Al-Qunaytriah – the abandoned Syrian city in Golan plateau – is clearly marked even though it unoccupied and in its prime was considerably smaller then other current settlements in the Israeli part of the Golan.

If you play with Google Maps for a while you’ll notice they have a wealth of information on Israel (for example, check out the “wikipedia” and “photos” layers, or just run some map searches), they simply and purposefully do not display it on their map interface. Even if I would accept lack of data in Google’s database, its surely much easier to get updated map data for Israel (the modernized technologically advanced state of Israel) then for any nearby countries – there are at least 5 providers of high-quality digitized geographic data that I’m aware of, some of which even have this data publicly available on web sites as highly detailed interactive maps.

Currently to I can’t think of any reason for this “black hole” in Google Maps, other then that the maintainers of Google Maps simply hate Israel – though I’d love to be proved wrong.

4 Responses to “Google are anti-semitic!”

  1. Shlomi Fish:

    From what I know, it is due to the policy of the Israeli Mapping Service, which despite the fact that it is funded by taxpayers’ money, keeps the information proprietary.

  2. Guss:

    Proprietary – i.e. can be bought for money.

    I’m sure that Google has the same problem getting geo-data in other places in the world – I don’t believe that all other countries in the world (including Arab countries) give geo-data for free. The main difference is that if you “google” for “ maps”, you get about two times more hits for “Israel” then for “Jordan”, which is more then 3 times more then you get for “Syria”.

    And again, its not like Google doesn’t have that information already! as I’ve mentioned – if you search Google maps for “esoteric” towns such as “Sderot,Israel” they give you the location immediately. They just don’t render the names on the map, and that is done on purpose. Compare for example the small town of “Tatahouine, Tunisia”, which is also searchable but is also rendered even though it is much smaller and remote then Tel-Aviv.

  3. Nitzan:

    I don’t know if you know, but all the civilian geographic data that is out there (for example – emap, atlas-city, all the gps softwares etc.) is the property of private companies. mapa (mapa.co.il) has most of the roads layout and ofek supply the Air view layer.
    and thats, costs money, and quites a Lot of it. and probably because of that, Google does not show any geographical data.

  4. Guss:

    I am aware that digital geo-data is available, I even eluded that in the post: “there are at least 5 providers of high-quality digitized geographic data that I’m aware of…”

    That being said, (a) I’m pretty sure that Google also buys geo-data in other countries, for example Europe, and doesn’t get it for free or generate it themselves (an effort which is also quite expensive), and (b) as we know that they have cities locations then to get the Israel map to have the same level of details as neighboring countries they just need to add major roads; The Israeli Mapping Service that Shlomi referenced above sells the entire national road map (down to details for local roads) in digital form for about 6,000 NIS. That is not a lot of money even for small businesses.

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