I had long assumed that all mapping services were based on the same data since there are only two providers in the market (Navteq & Teleatlas). In fact, all 4 major services (Google, Yahoo, Mapquest & Microsoft), use Navteq data solely for their street maps.
Since the 4 services all use the same data source, I just need to find evidence on one of the services of new road construction that isn’t evident on the others. That source would have the most current maps. There is a great discussion of mapping in general and online mapping services in particular on this great blog that details how maps get created, updated etc. Apparently Phoenix maps had 4000 changes in the last year. Seems like a good city to test with. I dug up the AZCentral article mentioned in the Map Room blog, and learned that Chandler Arizona is a high growth area in Phoenix. A little bit of browsing around Chandler, and I found my first discrepancy: S. Gardner Dr.Street Maps
- Yahoo: Yahoo appears to be 1 or 2 quarters more current the the other mapping services. Using Phoenix as an example, this probably equates to ~1K to 2K changes.
- Google, Mapquest & Local.live.com: All of these three services are running the same versions of the Navteq data (at least as far as I can tell). I was able to see the new road in Google’s satellite map (making that more current than the street data). Both Mapquest and Local.live.com recently updated their mapping services. Mapquest launched a much more user friendly version of their mapping services a week ago and up until a few weeks ago, local.live.com showed a Navteq copyright of 2005.
Map APIsThe most recent data available via API in rank order:
- Yahoo: uses the same data (Navteq) as their website. This is currently the latest and greatest map data available on the 4 major sites.
- Google: uses Teleatlas for their API data. That means that Google delivers lower quality mapping data to API users than they make available on maps.google.com. There is a good discussion on O’Reilly’s blog about Navteq and Teleatlas data, and what is made available through the Google APIs. There is also a good FAQ on the Teleatlas site. It appears that it is pretty clear that the Google APIs provide the lower quality Teleatlas data.