Getting lost with Google Maps

Street View

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

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!