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How to Correct a GPS Map Error

Jun
11
2009

I’m frequently contacted by business owners regarding map errors on GPS devices. The most common scenario is that they themselves don’t own a GPS, but their customers do. When their customers use a GPS to navigate to their location they end up a long ways away from where they need to be. This happens with both address entry as well as using a built in POI. Another scenario involves people winding up on closed or private roads. So how do you get an error corrected on a GPS device?

Determine the Source

First, you need to determine which product contains the error. By knowing which product contains the error you can report the issue to the proper mapping company. Thankfully, while there are a handful of GPS companies and online mapping tools, there are only two mapping companies. So ask which GPS company their device is from, or which online mapping service they are using. Then, you can determine which mapping company to report the error to. Here is a table showing who currently uses which mapping provider– but keep in mind these sometimes change.

NAVTEQ Tele Atlas
Garmin
Magellan ✔* ✔*
MapQuest
Mio
MSN/Bing Maps
Navigon
TomTom
Yahoo Maps



Google Update

In the USA, Google is now using a combination of the USGS/Tiger data along with data they have collected themselves. They are now accepting corrections directly. They still use other vendors such as Tele Atlas in other areas of the world. Unfortunately, corrections they cannot verify from their desks though aerial imagery or their street view imagery are mostly coming back with “sorry, we can’t correct that type of issue” messages. The quality of their maps has seriously declined as a result of their change.

Most of the online mapping services will contain a copyright notice with the name of the mapping company they used. Note that the table above refers to maps in North America, other countries could vary.

Report the Error

Once you’ve identified the source of the error you can report it to the proper mapping company. For Navteq issues, report it to mapreporter.navteq.com. Tele Atlas issues can be reported to mapinsight.teleatlas.com. They provide forms you can fill out to describe the issue in detail and submit a report.

For people who have more recent TomTom GPS devices, they also have a function called MapShare that allows you to make certain corrections on your device directly, as well as share those corrections with other TomTom users and report the issue to their mapping provider (Tele Atlas) at the same time.

Wait…

After submitting a report you will typically receive a thank-you email, sometimes with a tracking number where you can review progress while they verify and address the issue. This process can take time… more time than you probably wish. Often they will need to schedule a time to physically review the issue when they happen to have a mapping team in the area. I’ve seen reports corrected within a month, while I’ve seen other reports go unaddressed for more than one year.

But that is only part of the battle. After the issue has been corrected at the mapping level, then you need to wait for device manufacturers to purchase map updates and start offering those to their customers. And then you need to wait for end customers to purchase and install map updates for their devices– which many people decide not to do.

The total process can take anywhere from several months to multiple years. I don’t mean for this to discourage you from reporting the issue– by all means report it as it only takes a few minutes to submit. But don’t expect that the issue will be fixed within a few weeks.

* Magellan has started to ship some of their models with data from Tele Atlas while all older models used data from NAVTEQ. The copyright info from one of those two companies should appear somewhere in the menus of your GPS so you can determine the provider.

35 Responses


  1. Or you could buy a TomTom with Map Share.

    Bent - June 12th, 2009
    • Map Share leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to streets that don’t exist. I submitted corrects to TeleAtlas MONTHS ago and the status is still stage one – “We received your report.” Having correct maps is obviously not even a remote priority to TeleAtlas and by extension TomTom.

      Ed - September 4th, 2009
      • To say that Tele Atlas (or Navteq for that matter) doesn’t have a priority of providing up-to-date maps is just nonsense. That would be like saying Pepsi’s priority isn’t to quench thirst or satisfy a sweet-tooth because you don’t like the taste. Of course the number one priority of Tele Atlas and Navteq is to provide the most up-to-date maps as they can.

        But accurate mapping takes a long time and is very resource intensive. I can point out roads “missing” from both the Navteq and Tele Atlas databases that have existed for decades. I’ve got reports submitted to Navteq and Tele Atlas that have been sitting idle for over a year.

        I’m not saying I find the situation acceptable, however saying having correct maps is far from the truth.

        Tim - September 4th, 2009
        • Accurate maps is not rocket science, especially when you are getting feedback from people. It should not take months (or over a year) to look at an aerial photograph to verify that a street does not exist. At that point, there should be no need to search county or state records, etc.

          The bottom line is that when someone provides easily verifiable corrections to a company and those corrections don’t get past the initial submission literally for months, the company has internal problems. If they were truly concerned about accurate maps, this would be their #1 priority and submissions would be processed in a reasonable time frame.

          TeleNav has the correct information on these particular streets whereas TeleAtlas does not. How inaccurate are they? I just submitted 45 *more* streets that are on their maps but don’t exist – all within 3 miles of my house. TeleNav has them all correct.

          And I do agree with you – the situation is not acceptable.

          Ed - September 4th, 2009
          • Creating maps isn’t as easy as you think. They can’t just look at an aerial image and draw a road. In many cases aerial imagery can’t be used due to “no derivative works” licenses. The mapping companies collect over 200 parameters about every road… from curb types, lane widths, surface types, speed limits, turn restrictions…. you can’t get that data from looking at aerial photography. Mapping is way more difficult than most people can imagine.

            If you’re contention is that the company “has internal problems” if they can’t get to a request for months then every major mapping company has that problem. And again, I find your claim that the companies are not concerned about accurate maps nonsense. It is the number one priority of both major mapping companies and it would be silly to think otherwise. They might not be as fast at building maps as you would like, but it is their number one priority.

            Tim - September 4th, 2009
  2. Or, you could just use OpenStreetMap.org and contribute to something open and free, rather than helping TeleAtlas out with a bug report. If you help us, we love you, if you help NavTeq you’re just customer #725920.

    Steve Coast - June 12th, 2009
    • Steve, “just use Openstreetmap” doesn’t address the issue. We’re talking about how to fix an existing map issue in a GPS device.

      Tim - June 15th, 2009
  3. I’ll do that when OpenStreetMap.org’s maps are used in my GPS.

    Bent - June 15th, 2009
  4. I reported a map error using the process above to Tele Atlas 6 months ago. They show our street name wrong and indicate the address is on another similar named street several miles away. I received a confirmation on Jan 23rd with a comment that it would take several months to correct with their partners. 6 months later, no progress. I contacted Tele Atlas, they sent back a form letter indicating it takes time to correct the issue with the partners. Here is a link to the status report: http://tinyurl.com/n689za They made a comment: “Our automated processes have determined that there is sufficient information in your report for us to examine and work the issue.”, however they never contacted me. What additional information is required? They have the exact coordinates the incorrect street name, I even sent a picture of the street sign which is clearly different then the map indicates. Here is a link to the status report showing it was opened January 23rd and it is in the status “We have received your report”,

    This is not a minor issue. We had refrigerated prescription medication delivered to the wrong address. People are constantly getting lost. Fix this please Tele Nav!

    Tor - June 18th, 2009
    • Tor, just a correction to your last sentence, the company is “Tele Atlas”, not “Tele Nav”. Also their message in that link says “there is sufficient information” for them to work on the issue. So they are not asking for more information.

      Tim - June 18th, 2009
      • Yes you are correct Tele Atlas. They show the following states for the status report: 1) We have received your report. 2)We see the problem. 3) We are working on it. 4) We have completed work on it.

        My issue has been in state #1 for 6 months. It may take several months once they even fix the issue to propagate through their partners. This is not acceptable!

        Tor - June 18th, 2009
        • I’ve got reports that have been in there (and at Navteq) for a lot longer than six months. :)

          Tim - June 18th, 2009
  5. Why not just use cooridinates if the address is wrong? You can get them from google earth, google maps and mapquest. Perhaps in this day of ubiquitous GPS we might publish our coordinates on our business cards.
    Also, it would be worth while for the GPS’s to be programmed in such a way that corrections are allowed. Not that hard.

    John - June 25th, 2009
    • Many of the street based GPS devices don’t accept coordinates as a destination to route to. The TomTom devices do allow for map corrections. Those corrections can be shared with other users who wish to receive user-suggested changes and shared with the mapping company to make permanent fixes.

      Tim - June 25th, 2009
  6. What do you mean, ‘Street based?’

    Jack - June 26th, 2009
    • Devices designed for in-car use. As opposed to hiking, boating, etc.

      Tim - June 26th, 2009
      • Glad I bought a Garmin!

        Jack - June 26th, 2009
  7. This is what I would like to know. How is the route from place to place slected? I almost always find that I am routed through cities and not on interstate roads. And to add, the divice seletces weird ways to go never on main roads, most always in strange patterens .

    Francis - June 26th, 2009
    • What device do you have? Mine has three parameters and you can choose one of them at a time: Fast, Short, or best fuel consumption. Each one will make for a different route (sometimes and sometimes there really is only one route without being stupid) and then there are additional parameters that can be set such as telling it to avoid unpaved roads or freeways or…I forget all the options but there is a trick in this as well. If you don’t like the route it selects you can force it to recalculate by hitting detour though that can be a bit tricky in that you may not get anything better. I check google maps for routes and then compare them to what I get on my gps.

      Jack - June 26th, 2009
      • Jack, I have a Tomtom third addition.

        Francis - June 27th, 2009
  8. I have a garmin. I use it a lot for my work. I find it atrocious!!!! Doesn’t matter which setting I use (fastest route, shortest route) it takes me along weird routes. Seems to think that just because a street is also a state hwy, it is a faster route. In fact, if I am in Gresham OR and want to go to central eastside Portland and I am on Powell Blvd, it will send me to Division St where it is Hwy 26 for a few miles, then back to Powell again. But my final destination is near Division. So back to Division St. Both Division and Powell are major thoroughfares in the Portland area. Fastest route from Clackamas should be Foster Road, which runs diagonally. It sends me another mile over to Powell which is actually the slow route. Garmin often sends me to areas that have no roads. Never has been a road there, at least during this century, but there it says there is a road to take. Wouldn’t get another Garmin ever.

    Tim - July 9th, 2009
    • Don’t blame Garmin, blame the map makers and since there are only two map makers you could buy a different brand only to find out it used the same company for its maps and you’d be screwed again.

      Jack - July 9th, 2009
  9. You make a good point; however, if Garmin is going to market a product that it claims does something, perhaps they (as well as the other gps makers) should develop their own map-making departments. Rather than spend a lot of time, money, effort on a lot of extraneous gadgets like blue tooth (I’m happy with the whiteness of my teeth), CDs, language translators and so on, they should put that energy into making a product of real value with accurate and reliable data.

    What I like about my refrigerator is that, the maker claims its product will keep my food cold. It does that. When I turn on the gas, my range produces a flame that I can use to cook my food. When I turn the key to start my car, it starts. Toyota doesn’t say, “Oh, we got the starter motor from a subcontractor. It’s not our fault the car doesnt’ start.” I expect a gps that claims to draw the fastest route to do just that. Make the claim: follow through!

    I see a lot of reviews about how well these products work, but from my year-long experience, I seem to become more dissatisfied every time I use my Garmin.

    Before I buy another one, I will wait until they get the picture and market a decent product.

    Tim - July 9th, 2009
    • The other point of course is that you are treating your local experience as though its global. I have witnessed some peculiarities in my maps but nothing that can’t be lived with and the unit is so damn valuable that it makes these things annoyances. Not to say that your particular geographical location isn’t plagued with problems. One of the things the maps have trouble with is divided highways. However, there is something that Garmin could do to make things better. They could offer the same type of software that google maps offers: It gives you a choice whenever there is one between 2 or 3 routes and tells you distance and time on each and allow you to pick the one you want. Also, the software needs to be able to learn so that once you have the maps you can correct them locally. But you have to put yourself in their place and take a perspective that is theirs to see the what and why of it. But if I were an officer of the company I’d be pushing for those two items as they would be huge hits with the ‘buying’ public: I’m certain you’d like route options and the ability to make corrections.

      Jack - July 9th, 2009
      • Spot on! I have been arguing those points ever since I got my Garmin. It’s an end run around the difficulties map makers face and would be brilliant. Why the hell they haven’t implemented that is a mystery.

        Daniel - July 12th, 2010
  10. I recently started using a Garmin 265WT. Even though it was selected after a lot of considerations, it could not live up to the expectations and all the time I had desperation, especially while turning at the junctions, since there was no timely display of the turns,and all the time, the turns were hidden at the top portion of the GPS, which prevented me from changing to the proper lane in advance. Similarly, the destinations were shown just at the opposite side of the road which was really frustrating and dangerous.The accuracy seemed to be within about 200 meters, which is really aweful.But , if the same map is used(navteq) by other companies also,there is no point in switching to another brand,all of whom have taken antoicipatory bail from the user in the licence agreement.So, be contented with what you get right now.This is my plight in Calgary, Canada.

    Paul - August 14th, 2009
    • Paul is right, even in July 2011, my Garmin shows things like Walmart being on the left (“you have reached your destination”) when it is over a 1/4 mile further and on the right. It’s not even visible because there is a hill between the two locations. It sends me crazy ways through my town: rather than taking a straight through bypass road that’s been there for 8 years, it sends me through neighborhoods and sometimes to a dead end. Several people have gotten lost trying to find my house (which is in a good sized 10 year old subdivision) following their Garmins. I’m trying to find out how to make corrections, but it sounds daunting.

      Dawn - July 26th, 2011
  11. “I’ll do that when OpenStreetMap.org’s maps are used in my GPS.”

    There are plenty of iPhone apps that use OpenStreetMap. And the update cycle is very fast… I found an error of a street near me, uploaded the fix in about 15 minutes, and the next morning, the map tiles were showing the new route.

    Randal L. Schwartz - August 17th, 2009
  12. Hi, just found your site and it is great…answered a lot of q.s. I have a few, if you don’t mind. When driving from Tampa, we wanted to use the Suncoast Toll Rd. to go North, but could not put it in our Garmin and kept going back and forth trying to find it. So, how do we find Toll Rd.s when you can’t spell it on the gps??
    We live in a rural area with lots of County Rds…what is the best way to map it as lots of places just have a # and county rd..like 45 County Rd. 144?
    And, this is a really dumb q., but, regarding the sd card, would I put the card into the Garmin, connect it to my p.c. and then download music, pics, etc???
    Would appreciate any help.

    Marilyn - September 21st, 2009
  13. Just a quick note, I’ve updated this list now that Google is no longer using Tele Atlas data in the USA.

    Tim - October 12th, 2009
  14. I have a Garmin nuvi 205. When I sit in my driveway [in front of my house} it says and shows I still have .9 miles to go until I am home…How can I correct this…

    Linda Thomas - February 14th, 2010
  15. Is anyone else having trouble with the devises using Navteq information showing your business location to be at your competitor? Can any hacker make these changes to steel your customers?
    Thanks, Kevin

    kevin - April 10th, 2010
  16. We have been successfully using our Garmin NUVI for a couple of years, but a couple of concerns:
    1. Particularly, in Pennsylvania and perhaps other states, the driving directions use locally known street names (not route numbers and names on street signs)which to the person who needs the driving directions provides them sense of direction at all.
    2. When the driving directions are given it is often too late to be in the proper lane to make a turn or to plan where you need to be to make that turn. This is even a greater problem when traveling on highways (like interstates, and similar multi-lane roads) were speed limits are higher and traffic may be heavier.

    These two concerns have caused us to consider looking at other equipment which will not pose these concerns and be of greater assistance to us when driving in unfamiliar areas.

    Dick - July 12th, 2010
  17. I recently purchased my first GPS (for my car), a Magellan product. Your table showing who currently uses which mapping provider is most helpful.
    On my own I discovered that Yahoo Maps and MapQuest also use Mavteq maps. I was not able to get Navteq’s update service at their website to work.
    When I visited Google Maps on the internet, I found that their method of reporting errors is very easy to use. I entered 8 suggested corrections and received feedback on all of them within 24 yours. Three wrote that my suggestions were correct and they would change their maps, and five thanked me and indicated that they needed to check further and would get back to me.

    Are you aware if Google supplies maps to any gps companies? Or if they plan to do so?

    Margaret - October 17th, 2010
  18. I’ve tested my new GPS in my hometown and for short trips in the area. My feedback on reviews is that I love the features but cannot trust the maps.

    In trying to provide corrections to NAVTEQ I discovered that several of the internet map services are also incorrect. There are several printed maps for my hometown because it is a tourist town. And I discovered they are all different and all wrong!!!!!

    Sections of streets that have been closes for at least 50 years (that’s as far back as I can remember) still show on the maps. All three internet map services had these errors.

    So as the old saying goes … garbage in,garbage out. However, even if NAVTEQ (and other) start with a basic map from a city/town don’t they have any field check?

    Margaret - October 17th, 2010



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