In 2009, Google’s Lalitesh Katragadda watched as parts of his country were destroyed by a cyclone. The U.N. was unable to deliver help quickly enough, as the area hadn’t yet been mapped. Indeed, Katragdda reminds us its difficult to imagine, but in 2005 less than 15% of the world was mapped to geocortical detail.
Forty Google employees decided to change this over four days. Using a program called Mapmaker, they mapped everything from roads to rivers to create a detailed map. The result was that aid could reach the area faster. Since then, this project has been used extensively throughout the world. So, to the 70% of previously unmapped areas: welcome to the grid!