I'm starting to believe that the people who work for Google's Maps division are the busiest people at the Googleplex. Today's evidence is in a post from Google's Lat Long Blog that reflects on the changes made to Google Maps and Google Earth throughout 2011.
The post includes updates to Google's mapping satellites as well as several upgrades to existing services:
we’ve continued to add new satellite and 45 degree imagery on Google Maps and Google Earth, which reached 1B downloads last year, as well as expand our imagery coverage of Street View to Belgium, business interiors, partner locations like parks and even museums with the Art Project. If you want to follow these imagery updates, we expanded Follow Your World so you can get notifications about locations that interest you.
The post also points out the aesthetic improvements to the existing maps thanks to the introduction of Google Maps GL. Through the use of WebGL, they say, buildings and imagery appear much better and have a sharper 3D quality to them as you duck between city blocks and wander to your next class.
One sobering update Google made this past year was to their maps of northern Japan, which was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami last March. Because of their timely updates, Google said, "relief and aid organizations were able to access imagery after the earthquake and tsunami hit."
As for 2012, Google says that they're going to continue to make the "physical world morem accessible and tailored" to our needs. I dunno if they were aware, but my world was pretty accessible with feet before they came along, but then again I suppose I can't stretch my feet across the Gulf of Mexico and visit Cuba (hell, even if I could, I probably wouldn't be allowed to stretch my feet to Cuba). Hopefully Google won't unintentionally shut down anymore major highways as they continue to build upon their 3D model of Earth.