China maps out of alignment in Google
Date: Thursday, August 20 @ 06:21:11 UTC
A number of sites and blogs have flagged an alignment issue in Google maps of China recently. Presumably sparked by searches to locate Tianjin, the location of the huge explosions last week.
If you view a map of China and overlay it on Google Earth you can quickly see that all the roads and streets are offset from their actual locations. It's even more obvious when you compare a Google Earth view over the border with Hong Kong where the alignments is correct on the Hong King side (as per the headline image above).
So why is this happening? The simple answer is - China. China requires that any mapping of its country observe the GCJ-02 coordinate system rather than WGS-84 used in the rest of the world. This uses an algorithm that offsets the map by random amounts. Google adheres to this requirement as it has a Chinese presence.
Why China insists on this is presumably down to security concerns. China has strict regulations regarding the creation of maps that are used in the country with severe punishments for anyone who flouts them.
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