Headline July 14, 2019/ '' 'GOOGLE MAPS GOVERN' ''


''IN MANY WAYS, GOOGLE is defining the world,'' said Matthew Zook, a professor of geography at the University of Kentucky, adding the tech giant has set itself out as the world's leading map-maker.

But in the process : ''Took away our identity'' : Google Maps puzzles residents with new neighbourhood names.

HOME TO A PEACH STREET, an Orange Street and a Lemon Street, the Fruit Belt district of Buffalo, New York, has been known by that name since German settlers planted orchards there in the 1800s.

So, local resident Veronica Hemphill-Nochols was surprised when she opened Google Maps on her first, freshly bought smartphone about 10 years ago and saw the area rebranded as Medical Park.

''I flipped my wig when I found out they changed our name,'' she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Since Google Maps first launched in 2005 and grew its user base, puzzled and angry residents in cities around the world have increasingly reported finding neighbourhoods with incorrect or unfamiliar names, geography and data researchers said.

Names chosen by Google, with more than one billion people using its mapping service every month, often end up sticking as they influence how real-estate agencies, travel websites and home-sharing apps refer to an area.

''In many ways Google is defining the world,'' said Matthew Zook, a professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky adding that tech giant has set itself out as the world's leading map-maker.

''You'll see Airbnb and others - referring to these neighborhoods on the maps in ways that are reflecting Google's view of the world rather than maybe the local view of the world,'' he said.

But, labelling mistakes highlights the tensions between the company's drive to get clear, comprehensive global data and the complex identities of local areas - leaving some communities feeling misrepresented, Zook said.

A spokeswoman for Google said the company gets the data on neighborhoods from a combination of  third-party providers and public sources and stressed that it encourages everyone to report any errors.

''Overall, this provides a comprehensive and up-to-date map, but when there are inaccuracies, we work to address [them] as quickly as possible,'' she said in email comments.

FRUITS OR MEDICS? To Fruit Bell residents the name looked like a nod to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, a large medical centre that was being built on the edge of the working class,  predominantly African-American neighbourhood, local activists said.

At the time, locals said they were starting to be priced out of their homes by wealthier medical workers coming to live in the area, and many interpreted the name change as a signal that the community was losing its battle against gentrification.

''When they took away our name, they took away our identity,'' said Hemphill-Nochols, a housing campaigner, adding she thought that would lead to the medical park eating up more of the neighbourhood.

Sarah Warner, a spokeswoman for the medical centre, said it never requested any name change on  Google Maps.

The Buffalo council also offered residents few answers, Hamphill-Nichols said, adding that at a town hall meeting called after the change emerged, an official pointed to a long forgotten, four decades old planning assessment as a possible source for the name.

The council was not available to comment.
The Fruit Belt eventually returned to its original designation earlier this year, after a local daily contacted Google for an article about the issue.

''You have no idea what a load was lifted off me,'' said Hemphill-Nichols.

The Honor and serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Google, continues. The World  Students Society thanks Thomson Reuters Foundation.

With respectful dedication to Google, Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. See Ya all on   Facebook, prepare and register for Great Global Elections on, The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Names & Maps '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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