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News  8, Oct 2010

Google Maps Indonesia boosted by local startups

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101008-goog mapsHere’s a report on another Google event in Jakarta. We previously told you that Google Southeast Asia have lined up a week of events in the Indonesian capital, and flying in dozens of executives from the Singapore head office.

On Wednesday Google launched Google Maps Indonesia at Blitz Megaplex at Grand Indonesia in Jakarta. While the service has been around since Feb 2009, it was only this week that Google made an official public announcement.

Google Southeast Asia’s Andrew McGlinchey, who heads product management, and Derek Callow, who runs marketing, were on hand to explain the service and how they are now working with local partners to enhance Maps.

Maps has so far been limited to the standard map and overlay views with directions for those who walk or travel by car. Unlike in some other countries, Maps in Indonesia has no ability to monitor traffic or to find out public transport routes, let alone run Street View.

McGlinchey explained that the reason they haven’t said anything publicly earlier is that they wanted Maps to be mature enough first. With the launch, Maps is now available in Indonesian with its own domain at maps.google.co.id.

While there were no significant additions announced as far as feature parity is concerned, Google did announce partnerships with two local startups to provide more comprehensive information for Maps users.

One of the startups that Google has brought on board is Urbanesia which has been quietly revamping its website and working out third-party deals in the last several months.

To assist in searching venues and locations, Urbanesia’s more than 220,000 listed venues will be available for Google Maps users. With this assistance, information on Google Maps for Indonesia should be much more accurate and more relevant.

Selina Limman, Urbanesia’s chief executive, highlighted the cooperation between the search giant and her city directory. She’s counting on search results from Google Maps to attract visitors to her service as it provides much more comprehensive information than what’s listed on Maps. At the moment Urbanesia visitors average about half a million per month.

The other startup is Lewatmana, a traffic information service with video snapshots of road situations wherever traffic cameras are available. According to founder Hendry Soelistyo, his traffic cams would provide video feeds for Maps users if they choose to use the webcam feature. Though the videos are not live, they provide recent enough images to remain relevant.

At the event, Google also took the chance to announce Google Tanya Jawab for Indonesia in Bahasa Indonesia. Tanya Jawab is an Answers type service where anyone can ask questions and the answers will be provided by fellow visitors to the site.

Google is partnering with Chip magazine to provide some of the answers in the computer and technology fields. There are already hundreds of questions posted since May but the service hasn’t been openly announced until now.

Next on Google’s public agenda in Jakarta is the DevFest which will be held at Binus University on Friday.

Pictured L-R: Selinna Limman, Urbanesia CEO; Derek Callow, Google SEA marketing head; Andrew McGlinchey, Google SEA product management head; Hendry Soelistyo, Lewatmana founder
Photo credit: Aulia Masna.

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