Inspirational Story Of Lalitesh Katragadda – The Man Behind Google Maps India!

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Inspirational Story Of Lalitesh Katragadda – The Man Behind Google Maps India!

Google Maps are used by millions of people in India. In a huge country like ours, Google Maps has helped people in finding the right path at unknown places. The maps are advancing with time and are becoming more advanced. Currently, there is no one in competition with Google when it comes to the real-time mapping of the world. While Google Maps India is working to show people directions, let us have a look at the story of Lalitesh Katragadda, the man behind Google Maps India.

Lalitesh was born into a Telugu family in Tanuku, Andhra Pradesh, and grew up in Mumbai where his father worked with the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay while he studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Powai. He went on to complete his bachelor’s in aerospace engineering from IIT-Bombay in 1990 and his master’s in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University in 1991. He did a PhD in Robotics from the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University.

He founded his Robotic start-up Sphereo, in San Francisco, which was later acquired by Google as he joined Google in 2002.

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He developed Google Map Maker, which invited suggestions and sketches of maps from a set of 300 volunteers from his close circle and their circles. His circle of 300 was working on the mapping of 30 cities in India, under the radar of the National Defence Academy (NDA). Thirty thousand edits later, Google Maps in India rolled out in 2008 after thorough verification by outsourced teams.

“If this technology works, we could potentially create Maps for the whole world. If you give the necessary tools to one person among 4,000 people living on a particular street, s/he could map it all. Using the trust system online, I could figure out which edit to trust and which one not to. In 2006, the stage was set; by 2007, the verification was done; and by 2008, Maps was ready to roll out. We were confident that it would work,” Lalitesh said in an interview. His journey with Maps went on “from 2004 to 2012”.

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His work became so successful that it became useful to even used in the United States to correct pre-existing borders and routes, online. Google Map Maker has doubled the world’s digital maps corpus, mapping 1.5 billion people in 187 countries.

In an interview he said, “All the essential infrastructural elements that lead to development are not mapped. I think one more layer that changed things in the last 10 years is broadband infrastructure. Without this, you truly do not know what facilities a person is living with, in a specific part of the country. The scope of Maps is to personalize development to an individual level, which is what I envisioned. My dream is to tap grass-root levels and know where the sewage lines are going, where electric lines are located, where I can find ways to develop India. My dream was to create an information pillar for development, through Maps,” Lalitesh said. He adds that technology provides only 20 percent of the solution to the development, but “it’s a very important 20 percent”.

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In an interview, on asked about advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs, Lalitesh offered lessons from his own journey.

“My first and the greatest learning in my journey is that ‘You’ll always fail’. Be honest with yourself and ensure that the mission you’re after is worthwhile. People who you trust will tell you if it is, so verify your guts though you trust them, ensure your mission resonates with reality. If you are failing, try failing fast if you can. Because we have so little time and so much to achieve.”

His journey is surely inspirational and his work is really appreciable.

Published by Bhaumik Raja on 09 Feb 2018