10,000 indoor maps. You can consider this proof-positive that Google is making headway in its effort to chart every nook and cranny of navigable terrain, even if this includes carpet and linoleum.
Even more noteworthy: A great many of these floor plans weren’t created in partnership with Google. Instead, they were uploaded by users — business owners and institutional leaders who were motivated to make their properties just a bit more open to all. A steakhouse in Massachusetts. A camera store in New York. Even the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. More and more pioneering spirits are using Google’s self-service tool to upload their building layouts for everyone to see.
But there’s a caveat: It’s nearly impossible to find most of these indoor maps, unless you happen to stumble upon one during your day-to-day use of the Maps app. Or unless you read Wired.
Google launched its indoor mapping initiative and its Google Maps Floor Plans self-publishing tool in November 2011. But right now, if you look at the Google Maps support site, you’ll find a bare-bones list of some 80 available indoor maps inside the U.S. This list only includes major museums, airports, and business locations that Google has partnered with.
Much more interesting to Wired are the individual businesses and organizations that have made their own indoor-mapping leaps of faith. We were smitten with the idea that so many people willingly uploaded their floorplans to the mapping database, so we asked Google to share a sampling of user-submitted examples. As you can see from the images above, some of the maps are most noteworthy for their sheer, well, normal-ness. But this, in part, reflects the limitations that Google puts on people who voluntarily opt into the service.
While the last uncharted area of the Earth may be deep under the oceans, providing widely available maps of public indoor spaces (Google is not yet accepting private buildings) is also pretty cool. These maps could be really helpful to visitors who don’t realize what may be turn around the corner or corridor inside a nearby building.
So when can I start getting turn-by-turn directions on my smartphone from the entrance to the Field Museum in Chicago to my favorite exhibits?