Google is announcing a new contest for local would-be heroes.
The Map Maker Global Competition, which challenges users to add high-quality data on universities, schools, hospitals and medical clinics in Google Map Maker, will run from Dec. 15, 2009 to Jan. 31, 2010. The grand prize for the user who adds the greatest quantity of data is a $50,000 UNICEF donation to the winner's home country.
The winning team or user will moreover receive a VIP tour from UNICEF officials of the local projects that will benefit from the donation as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to the Google Super Mappers 2010 conference. Top mapping contributors will appear on Google Map Maker and ultimately on Google Maps.
Google's Map Maker shows users satellite images and asks them to add data to make actually useful maps. These citizen cartographers can add directions, streets, schools and more; data is subject to peer moderation. The app is available in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Romanian and Vietnamese, and in more than 170 countries.
UNICEF representative Gerrit Beger told Google, "We know that mapping is a proven method to enhance community development. Google Map Maker is a powerful tool to create better situational awareness for both young people and communities at large. It will enable organizations like ours to better deliver services, respond to crises and adapt to change."
Google has also just wrapped up a similar competition focusing on Latin America. In that event, more than 50 teams from all over the world participated, which led to a 500 percent increase in mapping activity for several Latin American countries.