How Often Does Google Maps Get Updated?

Whether you have an Android phone, an iPhone, or you’re looking at Google Maps on your computer, you’ve surely experienced a time when you know a particular road on your route has changed since the last map update. If you’re using Google Maps Navigation in the car to get somewhere, you know this experience to be particularly frustrating. Or, if you’re getting driving directions to a particular store or business in an unfamiliar area, only to arrive at the place Google Maps directed you to, just to find out they’ve moved locations.

While I certainly believe Google Maps to be the truest, most comprehensive set of mapping data available to us as consumers, it’s not without fault. After running into more than a few of these errors, I started wondering just how often Google actually updates Maps with new roads, neighborhoods, businesses, etc. Here’s what I found out.

Google uses data from multiple different sources to create Maps. Actual road maps are updated at a different interval than satellite view maps, and those are updated differently than Street View maps, which are updated differently than Google Earth. What this means: depending on which piece of Google Maps you’re using, you very well might be looking at different (read: current or outdated) data. However, the biggest benefit to using Google Maps for navigation and directions is that they update their maps more frequently than other GPS / mapping service providers, thanks in part to users’ feedback.

Google Satellite Imagery

Answer: Every 2 weeks

The generally accepted update time for Google’s Satellite imagery is “every 2 weeks”. That can vary depending on your location and the availability of data (and a clear, cloud-free day), but that’s something to go by. I checked a few locations I frequent just to see if I could spot any small differences that would be an indicator of an updated map, and in my location (Wichita, KS), I found a few that were consistent with that. For example, my car was in the shop being repaired the last part of July and the first week of August and I was driving an old green truck I borrowed from a friend. Sure enough, it’s in the Satellite view right in front of my office where my black car usually sits.

Google Maps

Answer: Continuously

Maps as you typically think of them are a little different, since they’re not as easy to capture and update.  With road maps that you’d use for driving directions, updates are a lot harder to come by, and have to be verified. Google has done a few things here to help speed up the flow of updates and to improve accuracy. Whether you’re on your phone on on your computer, there’s a “Help & Feedback” link that will allow you to report errors in Google Maps data.

If you’re on your computer, you can even help update it with accurate information and then peer review changes submitted by other locals in your area. I checked out a local business listing that moved locations and verified they are in fact at the new address. Here’s how the process went.

Step 1: Select the business from the list that you can actually verify. Depending on the status of the update request submitted, you’ll have to confirm it to be true (they closed down, they moved locations, they changed their business category, the updated their phone number, etc).

Step 2 (optional): Provide some feedback confirming (or disputing) the change request submitted.

After a change has been verified by enough local users (the exact number of which is ambiguous, it seems), it’ll be updated in the public version of Google Maps for the entire world to see. It’s a great strategy for Google to ensure their local maps are updated frequently and accurately.

What types of changes can you submit to be updated? Well, just about anything.

Using the Map Maker tool within the Help & Feedback section, you can add places, POIs, landmarks, roads, rivers, railways, building outlines, parks, lakes, and even entire cities and towns.

Google Street View

This one I’ve not been able to get (or find) a straight answer for. Looking at a few places here in Wichita, I’ve found some that I can tell have been updated in the last 6 months, and others that don’t look like they’ve been updated in a couple years. I reached out to Google for an official statement on Street View updates, but have yet to hear back.

Looking at Google’s “Behind the Scenes” Street View page, they’re currently driving in 37 states here in the U.S. They don’t indicate where they’ll be next, but if you’re in one of the areas listed, it’s safe to assume Street View in your area will be updated soon. Outside of those areas, they say:

We try to make sure the information is accurate and kept up-to-date, but because of factors outside our control (such as weather, road closures, etc.), it’s possible that our cars may not be operating, or may be operating in areas that are not listed.

Google Earth

Answer: Twice a Month

The short answer to how often Google Earth gets updated is twice each month, usually around the 6th and 20th. However, these aren’t major, global updates. Each update covers small groups of cities or geographic regions. As a general rule, Google tries to ensure all areas are updated at least every two years. One caveat, however, is after major natural disasters. During and after these, Google updates the satellite imagery in those areas more frequently, with the goal of helping first responders and rescue crews with the latest available satellite imagery.

If you find an area in Google Earth that hasn’t been updated in the last two years, chances are great that it’ll be part of an upcoming update.

RELATED POST

How To Request To Have Your House Blurred On Google Maps Street View

—–

You should follow Mike on Twitter for more great tech insights and good conversation. Be sure to say hello! You can also keep up with Mike on his personal blog: MikeBeauchamp.me, on Facebook, or on Google+.

Tags: , ,

  • Marshall Sumner

    You say that satellite images are updated every two weeks so Henderson Nevada must be lost because there has been heavy construction in a large field on the north side of Lake Mead Parkway for the last six months and the current satellite image only shows a vast empty field. Also a development to the north of this field has not had a new satellite image showing the construction for the past 12 months and I know this because my house is one of the new ones.

  • terry watkins

    I live in Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire U.K. Though the street view has been updated in the last year, the satellite view is at least three years old. I haven’t owned the red car in my driveway in that time.

  • Jacky

    My house was still in the process of being rebuilt when they updated my street. they last updated it in 2011, and now, the house, more beautiful than ever, is still looking like a abandoned shack on google maps.

    • remark y

      I am in the same boat. We bought a fixer and rehabbed it. It looks like a shack and hasn’t been updated since 2008! Boo!

    • Lynda Crockett

      The street view photo when of our house has not been updated since 2011 when we started construction. The house is beautiful and still looks like a construction dump on google maps.

  • Lewis

    They haven’t updated my street in Lancashire,England since 2009

  • Debbie Daley

    A little hard to update the street view? I am still seeing maps in NJ made in 2007 and that was the last time! Can’t be THAT hard, can it? It used to be an invaluable resource to me, now I can’t even use it due to how fast things change. 2007 to 2014 is a LONG time!

  • GI392002

    At least in Puerto Rico is not update neither constantly now 2 weeks… It hasn’t been update for years. The image of my house shows it under construction still and its been over 2 years since it was completed. Other maps services like Maps from Apple do have a newer image than the one from google maps

    • Jose N Yaleidy Galindo

      Yups thats true my moms house has a red van in from that belonged to my aunt 7 years ago, updating all the streets back home is going to be tricky lol

  • Jenni Thompson

    My area in Sydney was last updated around 2008/9. So much has changed since then!!

  • 898989

    My university which has been in construction for the past 9 years was last updated in 2005!!

  • Duh, people these days….

    “While I certainly believe Google Maps to be the truest, most comprehensive set of mapping data available to us as consumers”

    Ever heard of a Referdex? *facepalm* or what about Common Sense?

  • Y do you need to know my name?

    The last time the updated my satellite image was around November, October or September. Thats pretty good I guess

  • guest

    it has been 2 years since i had trees in my yard but there is trees in my yard according to google

  • Unnamed

    The maps of my 2 favorite ski areas are over 10 years old

  • Oscar

    In Sweden where I live, the satellite images are at least 5 years old, I can still see the foundation and construction site of my building that was completed in the beginning of 2009…

  • Adib

    Some places of my city in Iran is not updated since 2003!!! The images are more than ten years old!

  • LASDunited

    The street views are completely out of date. At least 4 years old in LA area.

  • Kathleen

    Every two weeks? The image of where my house is now is from like 4 to 5 years ago. There were just two houses there at the time.

  • http://www.collectors-info.com Chris morris

    Been living at my new address in Kings Lynn Norfolk UK for 3 years & sat or street view hasnt changed in this time.

  • whowhatwherehugh?!

    it’s not every “2 weeks” guy, it’s every 4 years…. Note to self, a little knowledge goes along way for people who are interested in facts.

  • ghfd

    the satellite view hasnt been up dated since around the latest 2010

  • underg

    The eastern part of lekki Nigeria has also not been updated by google.

  • You are all retarded

    You guys are fucking retarded. Yes it does get updated every 2 weeks. IN CERTAIN AREAS. If you actually read the article, you would see that they clearly said only small areas are updated at a time. Add all these cycles of 2 weeks up and you’ll get an update time of a few to several years for the whole planet.

    • Joe Blow

      Yeah, updated every two weeks for Google employees. Nobody else.

  • Kågito Ollonsson

    Every two weeks? Hilarious! In Europe youar lucky to get an upddate every 2 years normally places have no updates ever.

  • Peter

    The satellite view of my area in Parkwood, Gold Coast Queensland, is about 8 years old. Way out of date.

  • David Lemon

    The imagery over my home in Canberra clearly hasn’t changed in 7 years. (we did a major reno back then). So much has changed in Canberra since then

  • Kathy

    West Virginia…. Our map hasn’t been updated in a couple years… Saw a comment saying they do it in small sections…. It’s a satellite in the sky nothing else to do but take pictures… It gets a different view every hour you mean to tell me it can’t take a pic of a several mile radius every hour!?? It should be updating at LEAST every month every month!!!

  • Dave Schrader

    It isnt no 2 weeks. i checked where i live and i have been here since november of last year. It says Image taken Sept 2008. thats a long ass 2 weeks dont you think

    • Sammy D III

      Our Chicago suburb is over two years, from cars in driveway.

  • D.K.

    Wow! You get something for free that we didn’t even have 15 years ago and all you can do is complain! What next “I can’t believe it they haven’t in 3 days how lame. I was out in the yard last week and I can’t see myself” Come on people relax

  • WindsurfinJP

    I had my house built a year ago and Google Earth, Google Maps, and MapQuest still don’t have it on their satellite

  • JJ Johnson

    Not true on every two weeks. I’ve been looking at my home in Vermont and it’s not been update in months.