LGUs urged to put up online maps

MALAYBALAY CITY(MindaNews/25 August) – An advocate of Google maps application stressed the need for local government units (LGU) to put up an online map to promote the tourism potentials of their localities.

“It’s not enough to write about the foods and places of interest in your city, you must put all these good things in an online map,” Avel Manansala, a volunteer mapper for Google, said in a mapping forum here Saturday.

He said that based on the search data of Google, the “most searched items” in the Internet are places or locations.

For Mindanao, he said that aside from being the country’s “most maligned region,” it is also the least mapped island in the Philippines online.

“People will [continue to] use the Internet to locate places of interest,” he added, noting the accessibility of hand-held gadgets and laptops for web surfing.

Printed maps are still in use but they are disadvantageous especially if outdated, said Manansala, media affairs officer of the City Mayor’s Office of General Santos City.

He is also the author of www.gensantos.com and co-founder of Socsargen Bloggers.

Manansala said localities must put in place navigational tools like online maps to help visitors arrive at places of interests.

But the maps should not only be developed for tourism and business purposes.

Manansala said it could be used to help the electorate, like what they did in General Santos City in 2010 when they mapped the polling centers to help voters find their precincts.

He also cited that bloggers in Iligan City also mapped up the evacuation centers and other strategic locations after Tropical Storm Sendong hit the city.

Manansala said that LGUs must take the lead in mapping their areas online, with the particular participation of the local planning and development office, disaster risk reduction and management council, public works and highways, tourism office, and engineering office.

He said the disaster risk reduction and management office should consider mapping out the disaster prone areas and locations dangerous to the public.

Manansala introduced Google mapping in the initial round of map up here, which was attended by about 15 participants from the business community, government, academe, media, and the blogging community.

Last April, Manansala said they convened about 150 participants for the First Mindanao Mapping Summit.

He said that Google launched the Google map-maker application in 2008 to boost its Google maps service. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)