China launches online map service

China has launched an official online mapping service.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2010, 18:09 PM IST

Beijing: China has launched an official online mapping service as internet giant Google is yet to apply for a licence to provide a similar service in the country.

The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) officially unveiled the free online service Map World Thursday, the China Daily reported Friday.

The service will provide "comprehensive geological data", said Xu Deming, director of the SBSM.

Map World, the government-backed service, will "allow users to fly over mountains and plains around the world and search restaurants and traffic information across the country, free of charge", he said.

Users can enter Map World directly through www.tianditu.cn or www.chinaonmap.cn and search for two and three-dimensional images across the world, without client installations like Google Earth.

"It took about two years to prepare the service with all the satellite images taken from 2006 to 2010," an official at the SBSM said.

But the technology and website construction are still at a preliminary stage, the report said.

Restrictions on internet mapping have been implemented in China to avoid disclosure of State secrets and block uncertified maps.

The SBSM introduced a regulation in May that required companies providing online map and location services in China to apply for approval.

To date, about 70 to 80 companies have applied and 31, including Nokia, Baidu, Alibaba, Sina and Tencent, have been granted licences, the report said.

But Google China has not officially submitted an application.

Qualified online map service providers are required to keep servers that store map data inside the Chinese mainland and must have no record of information leakage in any form over the past three years.

IANS