[LINK] Google did it!

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Tue Nov 9 21:35:30 AEDT 2010

On 9/11/10 5:25 PM, Ambrose Andrews wrote:
> On 9 November 2010 16:47, Tom Koltai<tomk at unwired.com.au>  wrote:
>>> But their commander, Eden Pastora, told Costa Rica's largest
>>> newspaper, La Nacion, that Google Maps was used to
>>> <http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=U
>> TF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http://www.nacion.com/2010-11-04/El
>> Pais/NotasSecundarias/ElPais2577867.aspx>justify
>> the incursion. Nicaraguan government officials have also blamed a
>> "bug in Google" for the error.
>>   [article shows two different maps: Google and Bing]
>> The reason for the contretemps is obviously that the Nicauraguan
>> Government has the same cost control on information charges as the
>> Australian Government for maps.
>> In other words, you wanna map? Then pay please.
>> E,g,:
> This doesn't necessarily apply to map *data*, however.
> (I think the GA catalogue referred to physical paper maps)
> Federal government GIS data is often free:
> http://www.osdm.gov.au/OSDM/Policies+and+Guidelines/Spatial+Data+Access+and+Pricing/default.aspx
> Eden Pastora, the army commander referred to in the original article
> has something of a history of flamboyant military acts - he used to be
> called 'commandante zero'.  A self-indulgent former 'contra' rebel
> against the previous Sandinista government.
>    -AA.
The stuff Google uses isn't free, though. If you look at Google Maps 
Aus, you will see the copyright attribution to the PSMA - the Public 
Sector Mapping Agency.

As someone who has spent five-plus years hanging around this stuff, I 
can *assure* you that PSMA maps don't come for free. Google pays to play.

The PSMA maps are the "authoritative source" for things like streets. If 
you want to know where Bog Lane is and where it runs, you buy a PSMA 
license - which Google has done. If you want to look it up, the PSMA is 
at www.psma.com.au - but they don't list prices, you have to ask, and 
they'll ignore you unless they decide you're worth noticing (again, from 

This, I'm afraid, puts paid to the idea that Australia's supposed 
equivalence to Nicuragua is the reason for the contretemps. Bulldust: 
Google pays for maps here, so why would it not do so somewhere else?

BTW, as to map *data*. Yes, Geosciences Australia provides lots of stuff 
for free - I use it constantly. But: the GA scale doesn't go down to the 
streets and property lots in your suburb. That comes from councils 
feeding data upwards to state governments feeding data upwards to the 
PSMA. And collecting *accurate* map data - including property lots - 
costs a bucket in surveyors when you apply it to a whole country. So I 
can actually understand why some cost recovery is a good idea for 
fine-detail maps.


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