Last month, we showed you a picture of a backpack wearing Apple employee who was collecting pedestrian data for Apple Maps while walking along the streets of San Francisco. It isn't hard to pick out these Apple employees, who are wearing backpacks that read Apple Maps. In addition, parts of the cameras and sensors used to collect data can be seen sticking out of the backpack.
As noted on the Apple Maps website (via a post by Apple Insider), from November 26th through December 23rd Apple will be having its pedestrian data collecting team on the ground in California counties like Alameda, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. During the summer, Apple said that it was rebuilding its Maps app from scratch, and would collect its own mapping data instead of purchasing it from other companies such as TomTom.
If you see some one walking along the streets of the aforementioned counties in California, carrying a backpack with some strange equipment popping out of it, there is no reason to be alarmed. He/she is probably collecting pedestrian data for Apple Maps.
When Apple Maps debuted on iOS 6, replacing Google Maps, the app was not ready for prime time. With the app providing incorrect directions, showing mislabeled street signs and even countries, there wasn't much Apple CEO Tim Cook could do except to suggest that users count on the competition, like Google Maps, until Apple cleaned up Maps. Many iOS device owners to this day continue to stick with Google Maps for navigation, and Apple is hoping to win them back by rebuilding Apple Maps from scratch, using data it collected on its own.