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Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

More news from Original Do No Evil Guys and Those Crazy NAVTEQ Guys in Chicago

February 25th, 2010 by MDob

Mike Blumenthal sent me an interesting note concerning a situation in which a florist in New Zealand hijacked the listings of other florists to enhance the revenues at her flower shop and is going to do some time in jail as a result.

While there are at least two interesting aspects of the article, the first that that caught my eye is this claim by a Google spokesperson, “Every hour, our users make over 10,000 corrections or additions to Google Maps, like updating the position of markers or correcting other small errors, and for the most part people are being really helpful to other users.”

If the quote about the rate of map corrections and augmentations submitted is true, then there are close to a million corrections every four days with some 87,600,000 of them processed each year. Clearly, these must be independent of the requests for map changes, since the requested changes are focused on corrections that cannot be made by users. No wonder Google couldn’t figure out how to include the I-195 realignment in Providence, they just did not have the time!

I am presuming that these map changes are being made across Google’s map inventory worldwide, but the number of corrections still boggles the mind. How bad can these maps be (and that includes the Google-mapbase)? If there are 10,000 corrections an hour, when will the number of map corrections surpass the number of hamburgers McDonald’s has sold?

In addition, at this rate of change, when will Google Maps become perfect? The calculation, of course, is trivial and the answer is June 22, 2014.

Well, that is if all of the corrections and augmentations by the “map editors” are independent and, of course, correct. I can envisage that the changes made by person “A” to the map are then corrected by person “B” whose changes are corrected by person “C” and so one until the map is changed back to its original state where the cycle starts anew. This sounds like a great, new game idea for the iPhone App Store.

Topic 2

Today on my local news I heard about some local businessmen suing YELP in a class-action indicating that they alleged that YELP extorted a Cats & Dogs Animal Hospital (asked them to take a paid subscription) in order to have YELP take down a negative review.

Well, that certainly is a unique business model, or is it? Now, back to the article on Google that I started with. Just after the quote I gave you above (which I have replicated below), was a second sentence.

“Every hour, our users make over 10,000 corrections or additions to Google Maps, like updating the position of markers or correcting other small errors, and for the most part people are being really helpful to other users.”

“We recommend that small business owners claim their listing in the Local Business Centre to control the edits made to their listings, and if they do so, recommend they keep their listing really up to date themselves.”

I put some emphasis on the quote to highlight “…for the most part…” Would you care to quantify that Google?

Yep, it appears, it was news to Google that businesses were experiencing trouble controlling the information in listing describing the business that they owned. According to the SmartCompany article, “A Google spokesperson says the company is aware of the case, but says it is the first attempt the company has heard of involving malicious intent. She says Google recommends businesses make sure their listings are up-to-date.”

How about that? I had been told the Google had a colossally sophisticated algorithm that sniffed out and destroyed bogus changes in business listings (even though this practice was, apparently, news to the spokesperson). I was told that the algorithm is related to the same one that sniffs out and destroys those bogus map changes. Apparently, the team responsible for creating these algorithms did not have a requirements document to aid their development work. I mean does Google do anything that is not driven by one of the world’s most complex algorithms? WEll, maybe getting business listings correct is soemthing than cannot be automated. Hmmmm. How self serving – but maybe true.

So, business owners, here is your charge, “Damn the algorithms, just claim your business listing on Google, and Yahoo, and Yelp, and Bing, and infoUSA, and Dogpile (yes, it does exist) and…blah, blah, blah, blah.”

A couple of years ago I predicted that Intuit might get into this business and straighten in out since they already have contacts with many business owners. Well, Intuit is now giving it a go and I wish them luck.

Topic 3

Both of the maps shown below were captured tonight (February 25, 2010). As you can see, the MapQuest map routes people across the new I-195 bridge in Providence, even though they do not seem to be able to figure out where to put the highway shield.

MapQuest found the bridge

Now look at this

But NAVTEQ still is unable to verify its existence

The NAVTEQ route ignores the new bridge and continues to use the section of I-195 that has been closed and is being demolished.

So, the question appears to be “Is MapQuest mixing other data with NAVTEQ data?” Hmmm. I thought that mixing data was one of the reasons that NAVTEQ dropped Nav4All. You can never tell why licensing deals go south due to confidentiality issues, but you might want to take a look at this site if you are interested in further details. It’s beginning to look a little grim out there in the brave new world of mapping.

Part 4

Finally, it appears that there have been approximately 3.5 million User Generated Corrections to the Google-Mapbase since I wrote my column and none of them seem to have led to anyone at Google noticing the problem in Providence As you can see below, they just can’t seem to find the new bridge and prefer to use the demolished highway.

10,000 corrections an hour, but none in Providence.  What no spatial autocorrelation checks?

Maybe that User Generated Tower of Power I wrote about isn’t going to work out for the Googies!

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Posted in Authority and mapping, Data Sources, Google, Navteq, Personal Navigation, routing and navigation, User Generated Content

One Response

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