Let’s Get County Lines Drawn on Google Street View

On February 10, 2010 · 12 Comments

Loyal reader "Greg" wonders, "why Google [Maps] doesn’t show county boundaries?"

Google Maps and its ongoing lack of county borders is a continuing frustration to me, but I suspect it doesn’t exist for the same reason as the not-quite-perfect international borders: except for a few "county counters" and other assorted oddballs (and I say that affectionately because I include myself in that definition) does it really matter? Fortunately Mapquest thinks it matters, and that’s my go-to site when I post articles featuring counties.

Paradoxically, Google Earth does have a county border overlay layer. Obviously Google has these county line data stored within its vast repository. Logically then it should be easy enough to transfer the same underlying data for display within Google Maps.

Google Maps maintains a suggestion page and one of the buttons is "Show county boundaries on the map." I’d click it a thousand times if I thought it would do any good but I’m sure Google correlates suggestions with IP addresses. They’ve already received and recorded my preference.

Maybe if everyone else clicks the button we can start a groundswell. How about it? Would you mind taking a few moments to put in a plug for county line data?

On February 10, 2010 · 12 Comments

12 Responses to “Let’s Get County Lines Drawn on Google Street View”

  1. Mike Lowe says:

    I made the suggestion to Google. I too have had to have Mapquest open in another browser tab along with Google and http://www.mob-rule.com. I sometimes use my copy of Microsoft Streets and Trips for county boundary knowledge if I’m at home.

    I haven’t been called an oddball in a while. thanks! 🙂

  2. Mark Sundstrom says:

    I also made the suggestion. Bing maps, which I’ve been experimenting with more lately, also shows county boundaries and names.

  3. Greg says:

    I’ll try to do it from about 20 different computers tomorrow, when I’ll be around them. The gas-and-toll-cost suggestion is intriguing too.

    Also, completely randomly: I noticed on Street View a stop sign in Italy, on the border with San Marino, in English. I’ve never been to Italy, so maybe all traffic signs there are in English for some reason. I don’t know how one embeds maps in comments, so here’s the tinyurl: http://tinyurl.com/italystop .

    View Larger Map

    Finally: are there any border crossings in Street View wherein traffic switches sides of the road? I can’t think of any, but it would be interesting to find.

    • I seemed to recall from driving I’ve done in Western Europe that they’ve standardized on the English-language “Stop” sign. I checked Wikipedia — which has a page devoted entirely to Stop signs amazingly enough — and confirmed that suspicion. There are some interesting local variations on that page, too.

      WordPress has a quirk that doesn’t allow a user to embed Google Maps / Street View into a comment. Oddly, it does allow a user to do this when editing an existing comment. Unfortunately you can’t do that because you can’t sign-in to the Admin pages for this blog. However, I can. So what I usually do is drop the appropriate script into user comments moments after I approve them. When you provide your original comment, feel free to drop in the script (which you’ve copied-and-pasted from the Link option at the top-right side of the Google Map) into what you post. Then, I’ll use that to fix it, like I’ve done for your comment above.

      Oh, no Street View that I know of where driving directions change at a border. Most of those happen in pretty remote and lightly traveled areas of Africa if I recall. Anecdotally, I hear it’s a rather mundane affair: There’s either a stop or a yield where the traffic switches sides and they then go on their merry way.

      • Ryan says:

        Here is an example of a road side switch in an urban setting at the China/Macau border. Unfortunately, there is no Street View, but you have to admit it is a more elaborate solution than a stop or yield sign.

        View Larger Map

        Also notable is a registration problem at the border: if you switch to the map view, the roads don’t connect.

  4. Mike Lowe says:

    I have looked at Bing maps. The county lines disappear quickly as I zoom out. Mapquest keeps them visible longer as I zoom out. However, Mapquest views are narrower vertically to make room for ads.

    The mob-rule website has an application that imposes county lines on a Google map. I used that often to make my colored visited-county map.

  5. Zach says:

    I just noticed today – Google Maps displays county borders for Ireland (though not for Northern Ireland or the rest of the UK). Indication of progress implementing the county layer?

    • graham says:

      Google shows the Irish counties because it shows the top-level subdivision, which in a small totally unitary state like Ireland means counties, in federal, quasi-federal or semi-quasi-federal countries (e.g. US, Spain, UK, respectively), it shows the states, autonomous nations etc, with the counties or equivalents that they are composed of not shown. It’s noticeably incongruous at a border like the UK-Ireland one.

  6. Brian says:

    Zach/Graham, you mention that Google maps shows counties for Ireland, but not as far as I can see – it does show provincial borders (between Leinster/Munster/Connaught/Ulster), but not down to county level – which is very frustrating.
    Was this working previously and been switched off since?

    Mapquest is no better.

    Bing does show county maps – so I’ll be using this.

  7. Fritz Keppler says:

    I am also disappointed at the online mapping services which do not include US county lines. Bing still shows them, but they have been deemphasized and are less easy to see than they were, say, last year, and the county names have disappeared on the maps, though still visible on the aerial photos. Even though I have major problems with some apparent errors on their maps, MapQuest still shows the lines most clearly, with names on both sides of the lines, especially in the aerial photos.

  8. Patrick Harrington says:

    I did my bit 🙂

    Wiki have UK borders but simply as a static map in wiki commons


    but these are simply .png files so not very useful.

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