During crises, timely geospatial information is highly valued by victims, emergency managers, and the broader public. Web applications have revolutionized the speed and scale of crisis mapping. Adoption, usability, and data validation are critical, but for Google Maps Engine (GME), they remain untested.
This presentation describes quantitative analysis of 120 GME crisis maps measures adoption and validity, profiling the map data and its users. The map data profile includes the type of crisis, basemap selection, editability, type, quantity, source, format, and validation. The user profile examines the producer, software version, emergency phase, response speed, distribution, and audience. Additionally, verbal protocol analysis and cognitive interviews test usability among eight subjects.
The results show early adoption for GME Lite/Pro, but not for the enterprise platform nor API. Validation remains a serious concern for both static and crowd-sourced (57 percent of layers with little or no validation). The usability study exposes paths of least resistance (uploading data, adding features) and mental roadblocks (layer management, classification) among untrained users.
GME is an effective communication tool and will benefit from Google ubiquity and familiar interfaces. However, with technical and user limitations, GME will not and should not be the only tool in the toolbox.