In part 1 we examined Apple Map Japan Image Collection for 2022 and concluded that all of Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Kyoto and Osaka prefectures will have been ‘completely mapped’. But this isn’t really true: yes official public roads will have been mapped but not private roads…and there are lots of those.
If you examine the current coverage of Look Around in Tokyo carefully you’ll notice lots of holes, many side streets are not mapped. These are private roads. Private roads in Japan look just like regular roads, and are used like regular roads but they are owned and paid for by the residents who live there. It is a traditional cultural institution of local community building before there was a local government to take care of such things. It’s also one of the reasons why undergrounding is difficult to do even on public roads as utility poles are ‘owned’ by the residents.
When the private road is a thru street connecting public roads, it’s really more of semi-private community road, and the area residents who “own” it as a collective get tax cuts or local government subsidies to help cover road maintenance.You can usually tell a private road from official ones as they have no pavement markings or signs. Everybody uses them and they are ubiquitous. In Tokyo/Suginami City where I live, the breakdown of Suginami roads is as follows:
|Total All (Public~Private)||1,107.4||100|
|Public (National, Tokyo Metro, local city)||688.7||62.2%|
What Apple had done in Japan for their Image Collection is only map public roads, and not all of the those either as I spot a few missing ones in Suginami City. The general rule of thumb is that narrow side roads in older cities and neighborhoods are private roads. It’s safe to assume that Apple Image Collection vans have only mapped 60%~70% of the cities they have traveled. Google Maps Japan, has you would expect, have extensively mapped private roads.
What are the implications? Can Apple launch new maps or detailed city experiences for with only 60~70% of the total road area mapped? I doubt it. They’d have to get the missing data from somewhere and Apple’s go to map data supplier GeoTechnologies certainly isn’t up to the job. Believe me, they are not. Apple Maps Japan will gradually get more Look Around, but new maps and detailed city experience won’t be coming soon, if ever, not unless Apple tackles their Japanese private road mapping problem.
Recent Apple Maps posts
When will Japan get Apple’s new map? Part 1: the map supplier problem
When will Japan get Apple’s new map? Part 2: the private rode problem
Big Look Around expansion for Japan but no new maps in sight