COVINGTON, Ky. Jeff Hirsh — There is a good chance people have tried to find somewhere theyve never
With the classic answer to anyone’s question frequently being Google it, it seems that the global search giant is considered to be always trustworthy.
As I have said many times as a common thread in my blogs, all maps are not created equal. Google does not have he same commitment to mapping because that is no it’s primary function. Google Maps equate more in my book to paper maps, which also have always had limitations. They are a general guide to allow you to make decisions.
Google maps apps are often confused for car navigation, but as I have said until I am blue in the face, car navigation maps contain so much more data and even they are not all created equal. A good car navigation map is maintained with regular updates based on data that is driven (which Google mostly does at least major highways) and data provided by Government. The things that make up navigation map data are complex.
For example they include differentiating between paper roads and formed roads. In this case in Covington, the story doesn’t say how Kelly Rd came to be in their data. Once upon a time it may have been a proposed road that was never constructed and remains private property.
Paper roads are very common in many countries. New Zealand roads were originally planned in Edinborough, Scotland a couple of hundred years ago. For many good reasons a lot of them weren’t constructed. These roads only existed on paper and you will appreciate that there wasn’t a Google Street View or any easy way a couple of hundred years ago to pop out from Scotland to New Zealand to have a quick look to see if a road had been built. Many weren’t built because they weren’t needed, others weren’t built because there were mountains or rivers in the way, or because people didn’t want tot live or travel where they had been proposed.
Those original maps in New Zealand found their way into the legal Government map databases, because even if they weren’t formed, they had a legal status and could be built in the future. Unfortunately in many cases the fact that they hadn’t been formed was not recorded and because records were on paper initially, they were transposed onto computer plans.
A company I worked for found this out the hard way when we licensed the NZ Government data set to do testing in the days when we first launched car navigation in New Zealand. It turned out that we could not use the official maps for car navigation. They just weren’t good enough. We had to do what in many cases Google has done with the mapping car. We drove every road in New Zealand, collecting not only where the roads were, but also speed zones, intersection controls, lane information, height and weight restrictions and much more and then continued to subscribe to data from each council in the country every time anything changed, including proposals for new roads and every change process from that point in time.
It is complex and ultimately it is horses for courses and whilst some people may think so, I’m pretty sure Google has never claimed to be a car navigation company. Go check out a Google Map and find out what the speed zones are on your route, no left turns, where they have changed a set of lights to round about or a one way street. Google is great for an indication, but it is not car navigation. Just because it is on Google, doesn’t make it right. It is however very good as a search engine and as the reporter says, try a search on Google of ‘Problems with Google Maps’.
Interesting footnote comments to the story. To quote: “There is a way to try to get Google to change or clarify a map. But it might be easier to get a criminal record expunged.”
Don’t get me wrong, I think Google is awesome. It just isn’t a car navigation system and therefore doesn’t have the duty of care to be as accurate as a nav system. That’s why you pay for a good brand like TomTom, that is great at being a car navigation provider, but does not claim or aim to be a search engine, unless of course you are looking for a street address or Point of Interest and even then, no system is perfect and probably never will be. If any system tells you to go straight ahead and there is no road straight ahead, perhaps a river instead, trust what you see through your windscreen.