The time I re-baptized a street (on Google Maps)

Boulevard Nelson Madiba Mandela

Plus 2 other edits: Rue Madame Payé and Boulevard Élie Castor



I do rely on Google Maps very often. Probably even more as a constant traveler, as places where I live are frequently very new to me.

And I am more an Android and Google guy, therefore it integrates well in my usual workflow.

I know there are other options and some people complain Google Maps is not reliable from times to times. But as far as I am concerned, everywhere I have been to, it works at 95% perfectly.

And that’s not to mention really nice features like vocal guiding, or ability to keep playing music while guiding is on. As a 2 wheels driver I much appreciate it.

After I had been a big Google Maps user for a long time, I joined the Local Guides program in 2016.

What is the Local Guides program

Google Maps Local Guides write reviews, share photos, add or edit business information, and check facts on Google Maps. 

Google describes its Local Guides as a community. Members of the community are individuals willing to share information based on their direct knowledge of local places.

Participation is rewarded with points, badges, and perks.

Why do we care?

Like I said, if you use the Maps app often, you understand we all need reliable information.

I noticed from the beginning in Cayenne (French Guiana) that one of the central main streets had a different name on Google Maps. 

Actually it was the old one, as the street had been renamed officially.

And you will easily understand that it was a real hassle. 

And that’s what contribution is all about. I had to do something.

How to contribute (usually) ?

The usual process

Suggest an edit feature

Directly from the Google Maps app from your mobile device there’s a feature called Suggest an edit. You can use it to give new information about a place, or modify information etc.

If you do so as a Local Guide, I guess it’s quite seamless.

Missing feature due to the location

Unfortunately in French Guiana that feature is not available.

I had to use another option: Feedbacks

Feedbacks feature 

The thing is it doesn’t work exactly the same.

And I ended up opening a ticket on a global Google Maps Help forum to explain what I was trying to do.

Google Maps Help forum thread

All details about that thread can be found here, if interested:

Maps Support Thread

I am writing here more shortly to describe what we did.

Step by step:

  1. Explain the issue properly
  2. Communicate information required
    • GPS Coordinates
    • Pictures
  3. Check information if needed (feedbacks)
  4. Validation from Google Product Expert
  5. Modifications applied to the Map The big moment

This is about History

My interlocutor was curious about those street names and what it means for French Guiana.

And yes it’s big.

In July 2014, the largest boulevard in Cayenne, boulevard Jubelin, became boulevard Nelson Madiba Mandela.

Jean Jubelin, who served as Governor of French Guiana, carries with him the memories of a colonial era, which in no way corresponds to “the vision of a multicultural society”.

The mayor of Cayenne that time acceded to the request that this boulevard no longer bears that name. It  was then named after the former head of state of South Africa Nelson Madiba Mandela, “one of the great figures of humanity synonymous with “freedom and human dignity” “. 

I didn’t want to give up about getting credits for my work and therefore wrote a post on The Local Guides Community forum.

Local Guide Community Forum

You can find that post here: Local Guides Post

It received 16 comments from the community. And that’s really cool, some people cared and wanted to share their opinion or advice.

When I was told that “you might be taking the points and the list of contributions a bit too serious.”, I felt I had to justify myself: “…this is what I do, I try to go through things, it doesn’t mean I am greedy.”.

Another local guide wrote: “I fully understand that you would want at least to be recognized as the local guide who was responsible for such a major (and indeed “loaded”) street name edit. I would feel exactly the same”.

You see It took quite many interactions to clear the topic and get some understanding.

Final words

It’s true I insisted a little to be recognized as the local guide responsible for these edits.

And actually this would have been automatic if all normal features were available in French Guiana.

I did so because I was proud of my work, my contribution, and thought it would be fair I had recognition for that.

Some time has passed since the modifications were made, and I don’t mind if it’s not displayed on my Local Guide profile, that I participated actively to those edits.

I helped correcting wrong information on the map and believe this is useful for people everyday.

And as suggested by another Local Guide, I have since written a new post for the Local Guides Community to explain how to edit a street name like I did (Local Guides How-To Post)

Really the final word…

And since we’re talking about French Guiana, a little more fun here