Google Maps forgets South Sudan

After years of civil war, a new nation is born today: South Sudan. Maps will have to be redesigned. The Guardian already did it. Not Google, though.

Google - Sudan - 9 July

This is a capture taken on 9 July at 11:19 GMT. Sudan still appears as a unified country. It is not that at Google Inc. they didn’t know what was going on there. On 8th July this was posted on the official Google Africa blog:

In anticipation of this significant development, the World Bank, UNOSAT, RCMRD, Satellite Sentinel Project and Google organized a South Sudan Community Mapping event in Nairobi on June 30. This was the second in a series of mapping events intended to encourage local people to create accurate and detailed maps of South Sudan, to help them navigate their path to independence. There were over 100 attendees in the room, mostly Sudanese — university students, humanitarian workers, journalists, developers, donors, citizens — coming from Nairobi and its surroundings, but also as far as Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

In fact, Google’s Africa policy manager Ory Okolloh, who helped create Ushahidi, is very fond of interactive social mapping. But it seems that Africa is not yet on the top of Google’s agenda. This time Google did not create a doodle to celebrate the event and did not update Google Maps. And that despite heavy US involvement in the process leading to South Sudan’s independence. Those trying to find their way in that region by using Google Maps on their mobile phones will still be in Sudan.

Update (11 June 2011): PC Mag asked Google about this. This was their answer:

We are following the situation in South Sudan and are working with data providers to ensure that we depict the area accurately,” the Google spokeswoman added. “However, we aren’t able to specify when the update to these borders will be made, as the changes are often dependent on a variety of factors such as provider data availability and our system update schedule.”

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