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Getting lost with Google Maps

Posted on 16 Jul 2010 at 16:26

Paul Ockenden calls for Tele Atlas to use Street View to take a look at the mapping errors he's reported - and then fix them

Now Google has pretty well completed the coverage of Street View in the UK, it’s fun to use it to spot some glaring mapping errors.

The main Google Maps service employs Tele Atlas maps and, as I’ve mentioned several times before in this column, I find its maps have far more errors than those from other vendors such as Navteq.

Interestingly, the main customers for Tele Atlas are TomTom users (since TomTom owns Tele Atlas), but all except the most basic of TomTom devices offer access to the company’s Map Share service, which lets you upload map corrections and benefit from corrections uploaded by other users.

Tele Atlas wants you to use a prohibited track that spits you out straight into the fast lane of a 70mph road

No such luck for other Tele Atlas customers, such as drivers of recent BMW cars (the company recently switched from Navteq to Tele Atlas), and Google Maps viewers.

If you take down issue 156 of PC Pro from the 2007 section of your library shelves (alright, that pile next to the cat litter) you’ll notice on page 168 I wrote “...on the 20-plus-year-old A27 south-coast trunk road, about half a mile from where I live, a Tele Atlas-based satnav will instruct you to turn off at a junction where there’s only an on-ramp.

I’ve witnessed some confused and dangerous driving at this junction as people try to find the non-existent exit, so I wouldn’t be surprised if major mapping errors like this are a danger to road safety.

The company also seems very slow at responding to reports of mapping errors.” What there is at this junction is an “emergency services only” road whose entrance is a padlocked five-bar gate, and if you manage to get past (or flatten) that, at the other end of this track you’ll enter a main carriageway from the right-hand side.

Street View image

Yup, Tele Atlas wants you to use a prohibited track that spits you out straight into the fast lane of a 70mph road. Over the past 10 years I must have reported this error a good half-dozen times to Tele Atlas via its Map Insight system, and each time an email has come back from Tele Atlas saying thanks for the report, it will look into it and, if needed, correct the map. And each time nothing happens.

Now that Street View is live within Google Maps across most of the country, you can actually see these errors in all their glory, and I’ve included a couple of example screenshots.

In each case they show errors that I’ve reported several times over a period of several years, and I know others have done too. So come on Tele Atlas, please revisit all the mapping errors that have been reported to you countless times over the past few years, fire up a copy of Google Street View, and see for yourself the problems your users have been suffering.

Or here’s a novel suggestion – now you’re owned by TomTom, why not take a peek at the Map Share database, seek out all errors that have been reported by, say, a dozen or more people, and fix them!

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User comments

There is a better way

I got a giggle out of this article because, bad and all as TeleAtlas data may be for the UK, in Ireland it's far worse, my own favourite example being the inclusion of a road that has been a footpath for about 40 years.

The solution to all of this is simple - instead of pleading with map data vendors to fix the map, go to openstreetmap.org and use your energy to help build a map that uses the power of the crowd to gather better data.

By mackerski on 20 Jul 2010

That's been fixed - on OpenStreetMap

I agree with Mackerski, OpenStreetMap is the way to go.

You can compare the Google Map with OpenStreetMap (OSM) for anywhere by using the MapCompare tool from http://tools.geofabrik.de/

Looking at the error mentioned by Paul, you can see that the road in question doesn't appear on the OSM map:

http://tools.geofabrik.de/mc/?mt0=googlemap&mt1=ma
pnik&lon=-0.2532&lat=50.84477&zoom=16

By ManAboutCouch on 20 Jul 2010

Report status

Paul - Thank you for reporting updates to the map. I have followed up with our data team regarding these issues and can report the following:

First, the exit on the A27 has been marked as a service road for authorized vehicles only so that cars will not be routed that way. The change has been added to our map database which will be available on TomTom devices and delivered to our industry partners in due course.

Second, we have already captured the blocked road at the end of Victoria Road; this link shows how our routing takes the blocked road into account. http://bit.ly/routes_tomtom

Thanks,
Daniel – TomTom, Community Management team

By danrh on 27 Jul 2010

Last time I went to Brum, which was a few years ago, I was dumped straight into the fast lane of a motorway at a junction. Can't remember exactly where it was,but it didn't look like a temporary arrangement.

By stokegabriel on 30 Jul 2010

Suspicious Inefficiency

Now that Tomtom owns Teleatlas i predict their corrections will go worse. I have a couple pending for 3 years.
They want BMW and Google devices work bad on purpose, so only Tomtom (with its exclusive and patented correction service) work fine.
Very good strategy, if only wasn't illegal...

By LatinSuD on 8 Jul 2011

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Paul Ockenden

Paul Ockenden

Paul is a contributing editor to PC Pro specialising in smartphones, mobile broadband and all things wireless. He's technical director of a combined IT and marketing company, which works on websites and intranets for several blue-chip clients.

Read more More by Paul Ockenden

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