Lalitesh Katragadda: Making maps to fight disaster, build economies
November 9, 2009
As of 2005, only 15 percent of the world was mapped. This slows the delivery of aid after a disaster -- and hides the economic potential of unused lands and unknown roads. In this short talk, Google's Lalitesh Katragadda demos Map Maker, a group map-making tool that people around the globe are using to map their world.Lalitesh Katragadda
Lalitesh Katragadda builds tools that help groups of people compile information to build something greater than the sum of its parts. His latest fascination: collaborative maps. Full bio
Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
In 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar.
Millions of people were in severe need of help.
The U.N. wanted to rush people and supplies to the area.
But there were no maps, no maps of roads,
no maps showing hospitals, no way for help to reach the cyclone victims.
When we look at a map of Los Angeles or London,
it is hard to believe
that as of 2005, only 15 percent of the world
was mapped to a geo-codable level of detail.
The U.N. ran headfirst into a problem
that the majority of the world's populous faces:
not having detailed maps.
But help was coming.
At Google, 40 volunteers
used a new software
to map 120,000 kilometers of roads,
3,000 hospitals, logistics and relief points.
And it took them four days.
The new software they used? Google Mapmaker.
Google Mapmaker is a technology that empowers each of us
to map what we know locally.
People have used this software
to map everything from roads to rivers,
from schools to local businesses,
and video stores to the corner store.
Nobel Prize nominee Hernando De Soto
recognized that the key to economic liftoff
for most developing countries
is to tap the vast amounts of uncapitalized land.
For example, a trillion dollars
of real estate remains uncapitalized in India alone.
In the last year alone,
thousands of users in 170 countries
have mapped millions of pieces of information,
and created a map of a level of detail never thought viable.
And this was made possible by
the power of passionate users everywhere.
Let's look at some of the maps
being created by users right now.
So, as we speak, people are mapping the world
in these 170 countries.
You can see Bridget in Africa who just mapped a road in Senegal.
And, closer to home, Chalua, an N.G. road in Bangalore.
This is the result of computational geometry,
gesture recognition, and machine learning.
This is a victory of thousands of users,
in hundreds of cities,
one user, one edit at a time.
This is an invitation to the 70 percent
of our unmapped planet.
Welcome to the new world.
Lalitesh Katragadda builds tools that help groups of people compile information to build something greater than the sum of its parts. His latest fascination: collaborative maps.Why you should listen
Lalitesh Katragadda is a software engineer at Google, working on geo-data, machine vision, machine learning and space robotics. Before joining Google, Lalitesh founded a robotics startup that was acquired by Google. At Google, Lalitesh co-founded Google India and was its founding Joint Center Head for two years. He co-started several projects including Google Finance and Hindi Transliteration, and is now working on maps.
The original video is available on TED.com