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British Waterways charity mapping data handed to Google for free

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Google has gotten its hands on the GIS data for all of the UK's waterway paths for its Maps without handing over a penny.

The Chocolate Factory will download British Waterways' GIS (geographic information system) info into its cartographical app to tell Brits where picturesque paths for walking and cycling are.

GIS data combines mapping, statistical analysis and databases to give detailed information for maps.

British Waterways, which currently holds the data, told The Register that Google's main contribution would be to help promote the waterways and encourage people to use them, rather than any kind of payment for the information.

British Waterways is in the process of handing over responsibility for the nation's waterways to the Canal and River Trust, which will be a charity.

"We are well aware of the commercial value of the data," the spokesperson said, "but this is consciously a longer term partnership which includes further exciting and beneficial initiatives, details of which will follow in due course."

"As a partner, Google will help attract visitors to the towpath and we know, as a charitable cause, that those visiting the towpaths have a far greater propensity to volunteer their time or money towards helping look after the nation’s historic waterways."

Google refused to comment on the GSI data slurp.

The Chocolate Factory also wouldn't say if the plans were going to bring it any closer to introducing bicycle routes to its UK Maps.

Cycling routes were introduced in beta form for the US in 2010, but there has been no news on when bikes will be offered as an option on UK maps, which at the moment provide car and public transport routes, as well as walking routes in beta. ®

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