Author: Stewart Berry
Google won’t let me go to Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots will begin the defense of their Super Bowl LIII Championship when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 8th at Foxborough, MA. But I may not be able to get there using Google Maps which seems determined to take me in a different direction.
Let’s see how good your map reading skills are by playing a little “spot the error” game using this route to Gillette Stadium:
Turn Right? (71° 23' 15.01" W, 42° 11' 38.77" N)
Second Exit? (71° 19' 30.04" W, 42° 7' 05.60" N)
Here are the same (correct!) directions in Maptitude, using the integrated HERE data:
Third Exit (from wego.here.com)
100% map accuracy is assumed by today’s consumers of directions apps and mapping applications. But as seen here the reality can sometimes be very different, with Google maps giving incorrect information while Maptitude provided accurate results
China’s Huawei has recently announced plans to develop their own mapping technology, potentially in competition with Google, and possibly using Russia’s Yandex Maps. But new entrants will need to be wary of such an approach, with Apple being lambasted for their initial efforts at mapping relying on a mixture of third party sources. Apple has come a long way since those early and embarrassing days (anyone remembers the dangerously incorrect address for Washington, DC’s Dulles Airport?), but highly accurate data is not easy to create and maintain.
For example, returning to our route, the Google street line is shown below in white but does not reflect the ground truth shown in the aerial imagery and highlighted by the blue Maptitude path. It should be noted that this is data for the densely populated MetroWest area of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, not an obscure infrequently traveled location.
In addition to data accuracy, there is the issue of data currency. The data vintage may be the reason for Google Maps ignoring the first roundabout exit. The new construction in the aerial imagery below suggests that Google Maps may have flagged the road as inaccessible.
Today, there are very few high-quality and comprehensive providers of geographic data. Google develops its own maps and has been subject to vandalism such as a street edit drawn to show the Android logo peeing on an Apple logo. Such vandalism has extended to others, most notably MapBox in 2018 when New York was renamed.
There are several other major geospatial data players: TomTom and HERE. HERE may not be a household name but has established itself as the dominant geographic data provider, producing the mapping data used by Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and our Maptitude mapping software product suite.
As the need for companies to be able to control their own spatial data increases, the mantle for having the most accurate geographic information will be hotly contended. Accuracy is critical for everything from emergency preparedness, automated vehicles, and fleet management and deliveries to advertising and finding the best route to your football stadium.
Maybe there are other reasons for the errors shown in the Google Maps route. Let me know if you spot any, and I would love to hear about any interesting mapping quirks that you have encountered!
For more information on Maptitude please visit www.MappingSoftware.com.