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Why Maps are Outdated


Anyone who has ever used a GPS device for vehicle navigation or used an online road-mapping program such as MapQuest or Google Maps knows that sometimes the data can be a little off. Roads you know exist might not be shown on the map, roads might be drawn in different directions than they should, and sometimes they suggest a turn where you just can’t make one.

Most GPS devices use data from either NAVTEQ or TeleAtlas to power their GPS devices. If you have ever come across a mapping error and wondered why another brand GPS or online mapping program contained the same error then it is likely they both use the same data source.

Recently CNET published an article called ‘Don’t blame the online mappers’ were they spend a day driving around with TeleAtlas watching them collect data to be used in future maps. They also discuss the lengthy process that data must go through before it can reach your GPS.

So I asked a Tele Atlas executive why online maps often have inaccurate information and offer driving directions that defy logic–for example, directing a driver to jump a street divider. In fairness, he had a pretty good explanation.

“It could be that the map is out of synch with reality,” said Michael Mitsock, Tele Atlas chief marketing officer. “It’s the ripple effect between when we gather the data” and when it is reflected on maps.

“We might change the database tonight, but it might take some time to ripple out to the consumer,” he said. “Less often is it an error than a freshness issue.”

Read the full article here.

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