Google Maps Errors and Disappearing Cities

When Google replaced map data from Tele Atlas with its own map data from a mix of sources (for the U.S. last October and for Canada last April), new errors proliferated. In some cases the wrong labels were applied — even now, if you go to Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island in Google Maps, you’ll still see it’s labeled in Cyrillic. In others, physical features simply disappeared (fortunately, St-Pierre and Miquelon are now back on the map).

And in several cases, entire towns and cities either were misplaced or simply vanished from the map. In April, Jessamyn noticed that her town of Randolph, Vermont had been moved to the middle of Lake Champlain. Even though she reported it via the usual method (i.e., clicking on “Report a Problem”), nothing much happened until Techland reported the story, at which point, Jessamyn says, it was practically fixed in real time.

More recently, the case of Sunrise, Florida got widespread media attention, on CNN and elsewhere. Not only did the city’s name disappear, but searches for its local businesses returned results from Sarasota, about 200 miles to the northwest. This is apparently the third time that Sunrise disappeared from the map, and Sunrise is far from the only city that this has happened to. Google denies that it took the embarrassing media coverage to get it to get this fixed expeditiously, but not everyone is buying that. Via Geospatial News.

Google could have a real problem on its hands if enough people (a) don’t trust their map data and (b) don’t trust them to correct the mistakes in it. It’s not like they don’t have competition.