Saturday, August 16, 2008

Curious Google Maps cybergap for Georgia road network

The Russians appear to be surrendering in the forward direction, taking up more real estate. But it is hard to see their position on Google Maps.

Georgian leader signs cease-fire, faults West as Rice looks on; will Russian troops leave?
Orlando Sentinel/AP
3:45 AM EDT, August 16, 2008
TBILISI, Georgia (AP) _ Georgia's president grudgingly signed a truce with Russia Friday, even as he denounced the Russians as invading barbarians and accused the West of all but encouraging them to overrun his country. A stone-faced Condoleezza Rice, standing alongside, said Russian troops must withdraw immediately from their smaller neighbor...

Associated Press reporters had seen a convoy of some 50 Russian army trucks and armored personnel carriers roar without warning southeast from the city of Gori on Wednesday, some shouting they were heading to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. But they veered into a field outside the town of Igoeti and set up camp conspicuously within sight of the road. The Russians were still visible there Friday.

I read this and wanted to get an approximate location for the town of Igoeti in Georgia. Is it close to Gori or Tbilisi, and what are the directions? Naturally, I drop 'Igoeti, Georgia' into the Google Maps text entry box. No Igoeti. I drop 'Tbilisi, Georgia' into the box. No maps:
We are sorry, but we don't
have maps at this zoom level
for this region.

Try zooming out for a
broader look.

This was at the 500-foot scale setting, one notch below top scale setting. This seemed curious. When I zoomed out, as suggested, the country of Georgia looked like a desert: no road network, just empty white space. Yet Russia to the north and Turkey to the south appear loaded with road networks. To the south and east, the other small countries, Azerbaijan and Armenia are also roadless.

View Larger Map
That is the 50-mile scale. Yet the Google Maps service has adequate satellite and terrain information at the 50-mile scale. Click the "Sat" and "Ter" buttons to view the overhead satellite view and the relief map. Drag the map around to see nearby areas.

No maps of the Georgian road network.

This seems curious to me. Is Google fighting the Russians?

Here is a sequence of screen grabs of the curious maps business. Click the image for full size view.
  1. 1000-foot scale

  2. 2000-foot scale

  3. One-mile scale

  4. 50-mile scale, road networks in Turkey and Russia visible.