TransforMap and Google Maps

Dear all,

Following up the conversation at Degrowth Budapest 2016, I would like to work on the connection between TransforMap and Google Maps. For my own project Travel for Transition I have been using Google Maps because my mission is to diffuse alternatives around the mainstream.

I do see the importance of both, TransforMap and Google Maps.

How can we link and synchronise both?

I would like to take TransforMap entries and put them on Google Maps if they want so.

I suggest each TransforMap entry to have a field Google Maps with the default entry No, Yes after it had been added to Google Maps, and a Not wanted if the projects disagrees to be put onto Google Maps.

What are your thoughts?



Hi Robert,

your post makes me very sad personally.

One of TransforMap’s founding goal was to be a free mapping system independent from Google Maps, to be an alternative for commercial and non-free mapping systems.

The problem is that they require you to have all rights on the data you enter. So you cannot use any attribution-requiring, ore share-alike licensed data with Google, because they will not adhere to that license.

Therefore, syncing is (theoretically) only allowed if your data is essentially CC-0 or PD data (which have no usage restrictions).

There are two ways of entering data into GMaps:

  • Google My Maps - you create custom, independent maps that will not be indexed or display their POIs on
  • You add POIs via Google Places (this is ‘the’ Google Maps)

Instead of Google My Maps, we would highly recommend to use Umap! Perfectly free alternative without being dependent on Google’s goodwill, and you will be able to choose your license.

The BIG problem with ‘main’ GMaps is currently, that is is very hard to change incorrect/outdated data put into “main” GMaps. From various experiences, they postpone change requests until the POI in question has a paid subscription for Google Ads :-/

Linking from/to is of course allowed. Is it possible to link from GMap entries to more than one other sites besides the POI’s homepage? If they don’t allow multiple links this makes very limited sense I guess…

I would personally urge you as a member of the alternative economy to NOT endorse unfree systems, and use free (as in Freedom!) alternatives.



Dear Michael,

Thank you for your comment.

I do see your arguments. However, I:

  • keep believing that Google Maps is the more effective way to reach the mainstream. I do not know anyone of my normal friends who might have heard of Umap.
  • I have had good experiences working with Google Maps. All my added alternatives were published, subsequent changes accepted and my proposed features introduced (e.g. I suggested a new category Organic Farm to be added to Google Maps which they did).


my conclusion: It is urgent to publish the text we plan to publish about why we need “Mapping as a commons”
@orschiro If the main goal is not “reaching the mainstream effectively”, than you need to flip the whole skript.

1 Like

A question: What do you want to show on your maps? In the TransforMap case, we want to show the alternatives to the current (capitalist) economic model. Why do you stick with proprietary, capitalist tools when you want to show the alternatives? Wouldn’t it also make sense to expand the “alternative approach” also to the information technology sector as well?

Some of my “normal” friends also don’t see e.g. the benefits of organic food - The benefits are what we want to show them!

Your argument that “what we don’t know we don’t use” (In Austria, we have a saying: “Was der Bauer net kennt, frisst er net”) is flawed in many ways - it’s the common chicken/egg problem. If no one shows them the benefits of the alternatives, how would they know?

There are two “target groups” of people which we want to reach:

  • Those who want to create maps -> Show them Umap, it’s as simple as other tools! (That’s what we want to do: Show the alternatives!)
  • Those who just want to view maps - and most of them wont give a shit if the link to the map you share points to Umap or Google. They even may wonder: Wow, there is an alternative to Google Maps! (E.g. if they see quite differently styled OSM background layer.)

You’ve been lucky. Not all of us are!

The fact is: You have NO CONTROL on what gets published, why and when. If they decide (for whatever reason), that they don’t like something of your additions you have NO WAY to get that fixed. You are dependent on them. 100% dependent. If you can live with that, fine. But I URGE you do to not recommend that dependency to users who do not fully understand the consequences of giving up their freedom. And once freedom is gone, it is very hard to get it back!

how do we organize that? Could you write two sentences somewhere to describe what you have in mind again? Here? Mapping as a commons (manifesto)

1 Like

You do have different starting assumptions. I actually had a conversation with @orschiro about that. Let me try to ease the exchange. Robert talks about ‘Google places’. His idea is to bring alternatives to the visibility of the mainstream. Quite a different target than the two target groups identified by @species.
The question is how far do we want to see the data submitted to Transformap copied to places like ‘Google places’. If we aim at publishing data under CC-0/PD, I don’t see why we should be bothered that others do it. Do we want to invest resources into that: IMO the answer is no.
Interesting point: this raises the question of places who will not want to be on Google places coz they don’t want to be found… This is actually something we haven’t addressed among us: we assume that everybody want to be more visible but this has strong limitations…

1 Like

We actually don’t do this, as we know from certain mappings that don’t want to exchange their data. Especially concerning housing projects, squats, self-organised autonomous centres, etc.

That information is new, thanks!

I do agree, we should not bother nor invest resources into contributing to the commercial competitor.

1 Like

Thanks to all of you for sharing your views and engaging with my question!

The conclusions I take:

  • TransforMap will continue to work on its open platform
  • I will promote TransforMap as actively as I can
  • I will continue to map alternatives on Google Maps primarily due to my positive experiences and its potential for reaching out to people not yet aware of sustainable development and associated topics.


1 Like

Robert, thank you four your continuous encouragement, enquiry and support of the case, not the label. Jon

1 Like

@orschiro and here it is:

1 Like

@Silke thank you! Nothing more to add from my side at the moment, though.


1 Like


Wonderful to follow all these discussions!

I’m a part of a non profit who map all the collaborative places in Gothenburg (Sweden), most of them are alternatives to the norm and the neoliberal paradigm (that’s why we want to make them visable). But I just wanted to add something to this discussion as well. We’ve been researching many different mapping tools and finally we decided to drop or values (transparency, open source etc.) cause there was no alternative for us. We want a map that don’t need any coding, responsive and is really userfriendly and felt we was forced to use Mapme and GoogleMap. Frankly it feels shitty, everything we believe in we had to drop cause we chose to use the tool so we can reach mainstream. We want a behavioral change and then we need the critical mass (mainstream). That’s why we chose these propritary tools, and I think this is exactly why so many other groups and organizations also do it. Longing for an alternative! Keep on the good work!