My friend Greg Johnson found this interesting story saying that Google is hiring 300 people for a year to work "to improve the accuracy of Google Maps", though the commentary is rather uninformed (IMHO!). It doesn't discuss the fact that Google ditched Tele Atlas in the US 7 months ago to use their own data, and were widely perceived as having taken quite a step back in terms of data quality, as reported by various people including me, James, Matt, and Maitri. Google's vision seemed to be that they would improve the data quality over time by allowing users to report errors, but I had questioned whether typical users would be motivated to submit error reports, when it was easier to just switch to using Bing or MapQuest or whoever, who used more proven data from Tele Atlas or NAVTEQ. And most people interested in doing their own mapping are more likely to use OpenStreetMap, so they and others can use the raw data they have created (Google's equivalent, Mapmaker, is only available in some countries, and only lets you use raster map tiles derived from the data you have created rather than the raw data, and only under the terms of the Google Maps API which has various restrictions).
The article says that Google is paying $14.50 an hour, so a back of the envelope calculation for 300 people for a year says that they will be spending around $8.5m on labor alone (excluding overheads), which is not a huge deal for Google, but not insignificant either. Perhaps there is some other grand new plan behind this, but I have to think that this indicates that Google has realized they have a lot of work to do to improve their map data.