News about the East Kilbride Expressway and Other Tidbits
Just some clean-up stuff today. I know that many of you are out there doing your holiday shopping and will have little time for anything as mundane as reading blogs. Me too. So happy holiday to all and —
Now on to something merrier.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all though the house
not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.
The jolly old elf was preparing his route,
but Santa was a geographically ignorant old coot.
He looked in his atlas on the eve of that day,
but could not find the East Kilbride Expressway.
Man, I hate it when that happens to Santa. So, given that I had some free time, I thought I would help out. Very carefully, I entered the name East Kilbride Expressway into Google maps and that was where the trouble began. Apparently the people from Google Maps had read my last blog and were waiting to confound me on my next map search, not knowing I work working on Santa’s behalf.
The response to my query was this attempt at disambiguation. I had not known that there were than many East Kilbride Expressways in Scotland.
So, I began to page through the results. I mean it’s an expressway, right? Shouldn’t be hard to find. Are there a large number of East Kilbride Expressways in Scotland?. Hmmm. Google seems to think so and apparently its Street View vehicles have been on each and everyone one of them. The first one, I thought, was a likely candidate.
It looks like an expressway, doesn’t it?
Now for the East Kilbride Expressway in Dumfries and Galloway – this is an expressway?
Can’t be the right one. Next, let’s look at the East Kilbride Expressway in Falkirk
Not my idea of an expressway. Now the next one, well, it seems impossible that there is an East Kilbride Expressway, let alone any expressway in the Orkney Islands, but why not take a look?
It seems to me that the cows are wider in the Street View Image than the East Kilbride Expressway shown here. And in this scene, along the same road, the driveway is wider than the East Klibride Expressway!
Let’s try Fife
Actually the first example I showed was the real East Kilbride Expressway, but how is anyone supposed to know? Well, here is the route of the actual East Kilbride Expressway. I found it in a list of motorway exits in the United Kingdom. In addition, in 2009 it was cited on the Internet as the location of a UFO sighting. How can you be more authoritative than that?
Doesn’t Google ever look at this stuff? Oh yeah. That’s right, it’s totally automated. The way they find out their maps are wrong is when one of the stupid humans using their database tells them they have an error. Given the tutoring provided the UK population by the Ordnance Survey, I’ll be that Google is going to get a lot of feedback. However, I suggest that you send you contributions to OpenStreetMap, an organization that seems to care about getting it right in the first place.
But how could Google get so messed up – especially when Santa is going to be relying on them?
Oh, did you known that Google is getting ready to toss out the Tele Atlas data it has been using and launch its own database of the UK, so it has been loading its own data in anticipation of the event? You just have to love it when conflation runs wild. However, Google appears to have reached some new lows this time, apparently mixing data from fr.wikepedia.org and other sources to augment its knowledge base of the UK.
For example, how about the M25 (the orbital around London) being renamed “Autoroute britannique M25”?
And here it is again next to Heathrow
And how about this treatment of the Victoria and Albert Museum using a Spanish source?
I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait for the actual changeover. Maybe Google should try using OSM data? However, it seems very curious to me that the Google Vans had to be using some reference when the drove the roads above and I am sure that the reference did not name each of these roads “East Kilbride Expressway”. Sometimes you can use so much technology that you fail to observe some of the basic rules of map compilation. This is sort of like the snowman that got two lumps of coal for Christmas, put them on his face and said “I can see”. Yes, Google, you can see, but can you understand?
You can blame the above examples that I use to poke fun at Google on a source who requested his name remain anonymous. The source provided the hints, I provided the details. Thanks again for writing.
Now onto some other minor things that might be of interest
My colleagues and I just finished up our assignment with the Geography Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, which we had been working on most of the year. It was great to put the references to bed on the last deliverable. This was the first time, at least as a consultant, that I had worked with a group and I learned a lot from my colleagues, though, once again, we will be splitting up and going our separate ways. Of course, now that I do not have deadlines looming over me, I will turn to writing several pieces that I have been thinking about for Exploring Local, but just did not have time to write.
Frederick Ramm sent me a copy of his new book on OpenStreetMap (OpenStreetMap – Using and Enhancing the Free Map of the World – Ramm, Topf and Chilton 2010) and I plan on reading it over the holidays and reporting on it sometime soon. It looks quite interesting! Two of our five reports for the Census (in support of the 2020 Census) had major sections on crowdsourcing and OSM was a focus of these sections, so I am anxious to continue my exploration of OpenStreetMap.
I had hoped to be able to write a blog on the new NAVTEQ vans jointly fielded with Bing, but the opportunity did not turn out as I had planned. You may remember that I had asked NAVTEQ, though a plea in one of my blogs, for a ride in one of their new vans. You know, the ones equipped with Dilithium Crystals.
Much to my surprise in October I received a call from the PR group NAVTEQ uses telling me that NAVTEQ had though it over and wanted to offer me a ride when a van was in my area. We left it that there was supposed to be a van at a show in Irvine, CA in November and that they would contact me at that time to arrange a ride.
Well, I sent the Public Relations group an email at the end of November and asked what had happened to the ride. I did not receive their first answer, although they later said that they did send a response but that I had not received it because they did not send it to my email address (always helpful). When I contacted them again, they realized that they had sent the email to the wrong address (guess they did not use the reply option) and told me that “Unfortunately NAVTEQ is not currently offering Ride and Drives in their new vehicles.” Guess that was why they sent the message to the wrong email address.
I thought it was curious that NAVTEQ’s mouthpiece said “yes” and then “no” at a later time. Following my first email I wrote a more pointed letter because I thought I was being ignored. I received this response. “My colleagues NAVTEQ would love to have you ride in one of the cars when one is available. Right now, however, there is not a car available. When we do have one in your area, and we’re able to schedule something, I promise to contact you. Let me be clear about the fact that this is not a “No” indefinitely at all. This is just a delay due to scheduling. “
I loved the part “…this is not a “No” indefinitely at all.” How do you parse that? It is like “…this is just a “No” for the remainder of your lifetime”? About the only thing missing from the note is the line “…when Hell freezes over.” Well, thank you for your consideration NAVTEQ, hope that works out well for you. Let this be a lesson that even if you heard what they said the first time, it really wasn’t what they decided in retrospect that they had said to you to begin with.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.