Volmar is a program director on Google’s Ground Truth team, which has been an essential part of Google’s efforts to create a comprehensive, detailed and accurate map of the world. To build Google Maps, Google relies not only on satellite imagery, data from third-party sources and information captured by its Street View fleet, but also on the thousands of corrections it receives daily from its users, which are manually consulted and addressed by Googlers like Volmar, who reviews up to hundreds of reports a day and updates Maps by hand.
Huff Post spoke with Volmar, here are bits of the interview:
What are you responsible for?
I’m primarily responsible for working with a lot of the reported map issues that come in from external users — analyzing the things they’re requesting, verifying their claims and trying to improve our maps using the different resources that are available to us internally.
Do you ever have to send someone out to physically investigate an area to answer a question?
If someone reports that there’s been a new housing community built in a town and we don’t have that data available to us to confirm it, we can ask the Street View team to go out and drive the road, so we can get the street names for the roads, draw in the roads and other things that we wouldn’t be able to see unless we had an on-the-ground picture and understanding.
How many user reports do you get a day?
We get around 10,000 a day. During the holidays, if there are a lot of people traveling, we tend to get a lot more because people are using our product to navigate areas they’re unfamiliar with.
What’s the strangest report you ever received from a user?
There are some fun “Easter Eggs” in Google Maps, like when you search for directions from San Francisco to Tokyo, one of the steps is “Sail across the Pacific Ocean.” One user submitted a report that said sailing wasn’t a very feasible suggestion as opposed to hopping on a plane.