Google has launched a set of free map-making tools in a bid to encourage more web users to develop mash-ups using its Google Maps platform.

MyMaps, as they are called, have been designed by the web giant to help non-techies create customised online maps and share information about their local neighbourhoods, holidays and so on.

Speaking to AP, Jessica Lee, product manager for Google Maps, said:

“Even if we cut loose all our developers, we could never create maps with the same depth and quality as our users can.”

Google hopes the move will further the online map-making activity already generated by the launch of the Google Maps API, as well as providing more localised information for searchers and more opportunities to serve them with contextual ads. So as always, this is an ad play.

Anyone developing maps can choose whether to share them or keep them private, while relevant maps will also show up in Google’s local search results.

The tools have initially been made available on the Google Maps site for the US, as well as in nine other countries, including the UK. As Om Malik points out, they mirror a similar service already launched by Microsoft on its Live Search Maps platform.