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Who Makes MapQuest's Maps? 338

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the just-a-couple-of-dudes dept.
carpoolio writes "TechTV has an interesting story about the company that builds the mapping technology behind popular map services like Mapquest. The company, Navigation Technologies, is decidedly low-tech in its approach to making its maps: two people in a car drive around endlessly, inputting street information and landmarks into databases. Navtech's map databases are used in everything from Garmin GPS units to Alpine in-dash auto navigation systems. So next time you turn the wrong way down a one-way street, know that there are real people behind the controls."
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Who Makes MapQuest's Maps?

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  • They hire (Score:5, Funny)

    by prostoalex (308614) * on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:32PM (#7409862) Homepage Journal
    They currently have an opening for Associate Field Analyst in Las Vegas, NV [navtech.com]. Good luck finding anyone willing to visit each and every strip club and bar in town, write down their addresses, and get paid while you're doing it.

    Apparently they have been looking for someone to do that since June.
    • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:40PM (#7409976) Journal
      >Good luck finding anyone willing to visit each and every strip club and bar in town,

      I do this for free already.
    • by cmallinson (538852) * <[c] [at] [mallinson.ca]> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:55PM (#7410151) Homepage
      Good luck finding anyone willing to visit each and every strip club and bar in town, write down their addresses, and get paid while you're doing it.

      If only there were some sort of database that listed businesses and their addresses. Maybe we could even get phone numbers in there and put everything in a book ... a yellow book.

    • Re:They hire (Score:4, Interesting)

      by letxa2000 (215841) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:58PM (#7410177)
      Man, I want the job of those that just drive around with a GPS and record their track and what's out there. Especially on those nice long interstate hauls. Road trip!

      Seriously, this is both interesting and disappointing. I've been working, as a hobby, on a Palm-based GPS mapping program. The reason I'm not making much progress is because even when I'm done it's not going to be very useful without map data which is probably not available for free. I had hoped there was some hi-tech way to snag decent map data (at least the roads themselves) perhaps by digitally analyzing satellite photos, etc. But this is a low-tech approach which certainly suggests to me that there's no realistic way I could come up with nationwide road data for my Palm app.

      Oh well.

      • Re:They hire (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Verteiron (224042) * on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:02PM (#7410224) Homepage
        Sure there is. What we need is an "open source" map. Have anyone who wants upload their GPS "track" data to a central site. A little data massaging will be able to use the average of plots to determine major roads/highways, and a few volunteers could add names and addressing schemes. Maybe the individual users could even supply those if they wanted, with another averaging system to determine the correct name of the street based on percentages...

        It could work. Would be a major, major project, though.
        • by joebubba (686711)
          ...I'm sorry honey, its this damned open source mapping project again. I have to stop at Scores and then Deja Vu. We're doing a little data massaging. Yeah, that's it, ...data massaging. Don't wait up.
        • Re:They hire (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DoraLives (622001) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:18PM (#7411204)
          Have anyone who wants upload their GPS "track" data to a central site...a few volunteers could add names and addressing schemes

          Not to sound like a mean old man (well ok, I am a mean old man), but the hardest part of any such project would be sifting the bullshit out from the data.

          There's just too many ways for erroneous input to be included in such a vast database: Folks with an obnoxious "sense of humor," people with Things To Hide, grudge holders against various and sundry people, places, and things, government wombats with strange agendas, and never forget the Great Slimy Shoal of Lawyers who would seek to reorder things on behalf of Bob Knows Who, for Bob Knows What kind of reason. Pure random stupidity and mistakes cannot be ignored either.

          Odds of actually achieving a useful, properly updated, set of data aren't actually zero, but they're pretty damn close.

        • Re:They hire (Score:5, Interesting)

          by snillfisk (111062) <matsNO@SPAMlindh.no> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:11PM (#7412775) Homepage
          We're already way ahead of you. I'm one of the developers at project OneMap [onemap.org]. We are currently building and serving one of the largest, free repositories in the world, completly built on open standards. We serve content in the fashion of GML and store everything internally as XML. We've integrated quite a few sources so far, both from a few custom norwegian sources and from the US TigerLine-files.

          The main goal is to be able to update and review the content of our repository from within your own browser -- and we have the infrastructure to solve this. The biggest problem being that no-one has ever done anything like this in such a large scale, so we're kinda going along and feeling how the ground is all the way.

          Our gateway (for viewing the maps) are currently built on SVG and utilizes the open, formatted GML response. The source is going to be opened up and everything is going to be available for free, but currently we're having a few issues we would like to solve before going public. As always, this is a work in progress. I'm probably doing my MSc with just this topic (updating a map by many individuals) and a way of making sure that only REAL changes go into the repository.
      • Re:They hire (Score:5, Informative)

        by op00to (219949) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:08PM (#7410296)
        "Tiger" data, by the US Census, has tons of free and open data for anyone to use. The accuracy isn't great a lot of the time, but then again, a lot of companies use this data....

        http://tiger.census.gov
        • You are right, the accuracy stinks. So congress allocated some cash for Census to improve the data. My company won the contract. Read the press release here. [harris.com]
          My job is to compare the TIGER maps to locally collected GIS data as well as satellite/aerial images and make corrections as necessary.
      • Re:They hire (Score:3, Interesting)

        by damiangerous (218679)
        It's not all driving. Maybe for those people in the article, but not in general. I was watching them map downtown Hartford, CT a couple months ago. It was one guy with a PocketPC connected to a large GPS antenna on a backpack. He would take one pace, tap the screen, take another, and do this endlessly down the road. I saw him a few times in various places in the city over the next few weeks. He had a partner he would talk to on a two way radio but I don't know where he was. Talk about tedious.
      • I have long been looking for GPS software to go along with my PocketPC. This would allow me to buy a very inexpensive GPS unit (as it wouldn't need a display or any memory) and, hopefully, have a lot of available memory and maps to use. I see no reason to pay for the elaborate interface of a GPS unit when I already have a PocketPC that can do the job. The only disadvantage is the battery consumption of the PocketPC, but I don't see this being a very large problem.

        Unforunately, I haven't been able to fin
    • Apparently they have been looking for someone to do that since June.

      Perhaps the last one took a wrong turn down an alley and was featured on an episode of CSI?
  • by Empiric (675968) * on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:32PM (#7409863) Homepage
    ...two people in a car drive around endlessly...

    And I thought my deadlines were unreasonable.
    • McLain helps keep track of where they've been and where they need to go, but she says she's best behind the wheel. "Personally I don't have a very good sense of direction. I just get lost even if I have a map," she says. When asked if being directionally challenged makes her the perfect candidate for this job, she's very enthusiastic. "I know what the most confused driver needs to know," she says. which of course is nothing. this isn't very reassuring.
    • ...two people in a car drive around endlessly...

      Sounds like a job for the undead.
  • by asmithmd1 (239950) * on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:35PM (#7409901) Homepage Journal
    With a GPS receiver in many cell phones we need to figure out how we all can collaborate on creating maps. Here [gadgeteer.org] is a map I created with the data from my cell phone over the course of a couple of months. If everyone contributed instead of the data from a few people driving around we could pool the collective data and have great, open maps. This [ulocate.com] service is free until the end of the year, if everyone who can signed up and we pool the locations we would have a great map (not to mention traffic info.)
    • If you could only find a way to Wiki map collaboration. Now THAT would be way kool.

    • And for every mile I drive I get .02 cents sent to any credit card I choose.
    • by mblase (200735) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:43PM (#7410015)
      With a GPS receiver in many cell phones we need to figure out how we all can collaborate on creating maps.

      "Can you hear me now? I'm on Main and First...."
      "Can you hear me now? I'm on Main and Second...."
      "Can you hear me now? I'm on Main and Third...."
    • Wrong approach (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SheldonYoung (25077)
      Very close to every road is already digitized in the computers of municipalities, fedral and other government agencies. What we need isn't a swarm of GSP receivers but get the information into once place and make it public. The information already exists in pieces and it needs to be coordinated and released.
      • Sounds simple, but in how many ways is that data stored and structured, and how current is it? With a GSP swarm you don't just generate a map, but you put in place a mechanism to both update current maps and create new ones as needed...
      • Re:Wrong approach (Score:4, Informative)

        by RealAlaskan (576404) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:06PM (#7410275) Homepage Journal
        What we need isn't a swarm of GSP receivers but get the information into once place and make it public. The information already exists in pieces and it needs to be coordinated and released.

        We've already paid for that. The U.S. Census Bureau's Tiger [census.gov] map database. You can get the files on CD or DVD, or via ftp. You'll need GIS software. Try GRASS [ibiblio.org].

      • Re:Wrong approach (Score:4, Informative)

        by Unordained (262962) <unordained_slash ... @pseudotheos.com> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:21PM (#7410436) Homepage
        isn't that information already required to be public?

        however, i know from my own county (middle of nowhere colorado) that the maps are seldomly updated in digital format -- my girlfriend (IT manager for the county) was updating 20-year-old maps, putting the incremental changes back into the database. they were planning on printing new maps for surveyors, etc., and hadn't done it recently (20 years.) although the information is publicly available (and the paper maps are up to date,) there's no guarantee it's available digitally, or digitally & correctly. then again, most of this information was about property ownership and boundaries -- maybe they keep the road information more up to date. (i highly doubt it.) i know
        the city disagrees with the sign on my street about where i live, exactly -- someone driving around would find information that doesn't match information given by the city/county, but might be more useful to help you navigate. (the UPS/Fedex people get a bit confused when you give them one address and they have the other one available to them in their mapping system.)

        from what i understand, information of this sort is kept using fairly standard software like ESRI ArcGIS (unless it's just in the "road guy"'s head, as it is for us most of the time,) so most counties would have very similar (or identical) database layouts. shouldn't be too hard to coordinate. getting them to -send- you updates might take some convincing though, or even to make the updates digital.

        but then, we have, what, less than a dozen paved roads in the county? =)
      • Re:Wrong approach (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kaboom13 (235759)
        Hahaha You think those maps are right? Why do you this they send out survey crews whenever they do any sort of construction? I'll give you a hint, according to the city maps, theres a canal where a friend of mine's house is. The canal doesnt exist, and never did, as the house has been there before the map and most of the roads around it were built. Ask anyone that works from a power company or gas company how often the city maps are correct. This approach combined with sattelite photography is proba
    • by Mindragon (627249) * on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:59PM (#7410201) Journal
      Oh great. I can see the phone calls from my ex now...

      Answering machine: "Thank you for calling. Leave a message. (BEEP)"

      Ex: "Hello? I know you're there! I just checked your tracking web blog and it says you're there! Pick up the damn phone! I want to talk to you now! Pick it up! Pick it up! God damn you pick up the damn phone now! Your tracking web blog says you're three feet from this answering machine so pick up the god damn phone now!"
    • by bs_02_06_02 (670476) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:56PM (#7410936)
      The wireless phone companies will have access to a large amount of data due to GPS. GPS is there for 911 phone calls, but there are secondary uses. Dropped calls could be correlated to last known position to (hopefully) improve the network.
      They could very easily map out where all phone calls were made, where they travelled while calling, how fast they were travelling. I imagine that the subpoenas will be issued for these records, and the phone companies will want to fight the subpoenas. Spousal disputes, divorce settlements, all kinds of nastiness might hinge on the availability of these records.
      It would be easy to relate this data to roads, popular stops, even events that occur along the route. Car accidents, Bill Clinton having sex in a car, gawkers slowing down, all are events that would trigger increases in phone traffic.
      The amount of data mined from this could be fantastic.
      Don't buy stock in tin foil hats either.
  • To the saying:

    I've been everywhere man....

    Congrats to Johnny Cash on all of his recent CMA awards. A great singer who will be missed.
  • by Valar (167606) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:36PM (#7409924)
    yeah, but what do THEY use for their directions?

  • I'd make a joke (Score:3, Insightful)

    by colmore (56499) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:36PM (#7409926) Journal
    My first impulse is to crack a joke about this, but upon second consideration...

    That sounds like an unbelievably sweet job; where do I send a resume? (And to think: all those pointless roadtrips and all that skipping school could come in handy.)
  • Has any company out there used topographical maps to maps 3D render of areas? And maps?

    Most of these maps have dots for houses, green for forest, and lines for elevation it would seems you could scan this in and make some neat maps. Beyond me of course but is anyone doing this sort of thing?

    • It's pretty trivial to drape a topo quad over a DEM or a TIN. Get ArcGIS, and it does most of the work for you. This takes about 5 seconds. ArcGIS is ridiculously expensive, so you might want to bug your local University for access.
    • You can find topographical data sets on line - not very accurate but up there for free (I think from the USGS). Apart from anything else, this how open source flight simulators get their stuff.

      For the accurate stuff, you buy data sets which consist of strings of 3d and 2d coords. These can be assembled into Digital Ground Models and are used by architects all the time.

    • Very definitely yes - the folks you are looking for are Delorme [delorme.com], from my hometown of Yarmouth Maine. Their Topo USA software does precisely that - I have the software with the database files for New England, and it works very well. It's great for planning camping/hiking trips. Here's a link to the software [delorme.com] itself. It's fairly expensive ($100), but you get high detail maps of the entire US in the bargain, so it's worth it.
    • I used to work in a company doing 3d maps. In rural areas this meant taking existing topo maps and elevation models and constructing a model out of those, but in cities the we used aerial photos, 'slanted' aerial photos and/or laser scanning to re-map everything: existing map data just isn't accurate enough for 3D.
      The company didn't do well financially (which is why i'm not working there anymore), but the models can still be viewed. Check them out:

      A presentation [cityguide3d.com] of just about every model we did (Hel

  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:39PM (#7409957) Homepage
    My car has one of these things in it - the map systems runs of a data DVD rom in the boot (part of the CD changer assembly).

    As a result I have been driving in Boston for 3 months and can't find my way from end to end, unlike every other place I have lived in (I can drive around NYC, London, Cambridgeshire and Lancashire with no map no problem). I have no idea what connects to where at all.

    You need that period of getting lost all the time when you first move somewhere to really learn it, rely too much on GPS nav and you will never know the city properly :o(

    Cool for the odd weekend, but overreliance will cripple your direction sense. And worst of all, now I have lived here for so long I can't exactly switch it off and be late for everything - no excuse anymore.

    Now I'm stuck forever buying map upgrades and newer and better systems at vast cost - it's a conspiracy to lock you in I tells ya, get out whilst the goings good.
    • As a result I have been driving in Boston for 3 months and can't find my way from end to end, unlike every other place I have lived in (I can drive around NYC, London, Cambridgeshire and Lancashire with no map no problem). I have no idea what connects to where at all.

      Don't blame MapQuest -- I was born here and still routinely get lost within walking distance of my house. And that's before you deal with the Big Dig literally moving on and off ramps around every month.

      On the plus side, the first time you cru

    • Well the problem is that Boston doesn't make any sense. Even though I've lived here a few years and I'm a "road geek" I still get lost all the time. It's simply not possible to avoid taking a wrong turn in so many places in the area. Accept this fact and instead concentrate on recovering [arrowmap.com] afterward. There's no way I could drive in Boston (or anywhere in a 20-mile radius) without that map.
    • let me get this straight - you can drive around new york without any trouble whatsoever, but not boston? what's wrong with this picture?
  • by The_Rippa (181699) * on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:39PM (#7409958)
    I'm suprised they don't strike up a deal with UPS, FedEx, and other companies that travel around alot that allows them to hook up receivers and use it to grab data that they can compare to their db.

    Should be easy to tell if a street is new, changed, or whatever. Then they'd just have to send someone out there to verify the new data.

    I'm actually surprised that this is how they do it. I've always assumed they hire people to drive over every road, but I figured there was a much better way to collect what I'm sure is a shitload of data.
    • For the big carriers (UPS, FedEx, Airborne/DHL), it isn't really an issue. These drivers have a territory they are responsible for. 90% of the packages they deliver are in the same buildings they visit every day. It may be cool while a driver is learning their territory, but after that brief learning period, it would probably be an expensive waste.
    • I'm suprised they don't strike up a deal with UPS, FedEx, and other companies that travel around alot that allows them to hook up receivers and use it to grab data that they can compare to their db.

      That sounds like a good idea, except I'm guessing UPS and FedEx don't make their own maps.

      For instance. Pizza Hut has to make a lot of deliveries around a town. In a city like mine, there is always new contruction going on, new streets and addresses being added. Now, while they can add new streets manually into

  • Do they carpool with the Verizon Dude?

    -sam

    • Where am I now?
      Where am I now ?
      Where am I now?
      Where am I now?
      Where am I now?
      Where am I now?
      Where am I now?
      Where am I now?

      A few days of this and any jury in the nation would acquit.

  • by Whammy666 (589169) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:39PM (#7409963) Homepage
    I worked at a company that was going to do vehicle tracking using GPS and those road map CDs you see at the computer store. We bought several of them from different companies. What we found was that they are full of mistakes. I believe that most of the data for these comes from a company called DeLorme (sp?). Unfortunately, it seems to have been compiled from obsolete government records. Something to keep in mind is you're planning a trip with these.
  • "...know that there are real people behind the controls."

    Yeah. The maps are good, but the algorithm for path plotting could use some work. Sometimes it suggests the strangest ways to get somewhere...

    Or maybe the program is trying to confuse humans and cost the world hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity???
    • NavTech just makes a map database, the path plotting algorithm doesn't come from them. That's why mapquest and yahoo will give you different results.
    • There was an article on these people in the Philadelphia Inquirer [philly.com] rag about a month ago, with rather more detail (unfortunately the Inquirer doesn't appear to archive articles older than seven days; I found it by searching, but was directed to a pay site to retrieve the article, so no karma-whoring on that one, sorry).

      I seem to recall (and the article here bears that out) that they were at pains to point out they are only responsible for creating the database of streets. The service (be it Yahoo Maps or yo
    • by csnydermvpsoft (596111) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:02PM (#7410231) Homepage
      The graph algorithms to calculate these routes are very mature. If there are problems, they're either from the algorithms being implemented improperly (unlikely, as they're actually quite simple algorithms), or there are issues with the data. Most likely it's the latter.
      • I suspect it is far more likely that it is the quality of the heuristics used to speed up the search. These graph algorithms are very expensive and the heuristics used to speed up the searches can lead you don the wrong path (pun intended...)

        For an example I have notice that mapquest directions suck even more than usual when crossing state lines, their heuristic seems to only want to cross state lines on major roads (interstates...). even when a smaller road is obviously (to a human reading a map) far sup
      • I wonder what's in the data that causes it to tell me to get off the freeway, drive north for half a mile, bang a bitch, and drive south and get back on the freeway.
  • Watch out if there the region you are going to is newly developed. You can almost be certain that the approximation used w.r.t area code will always be wrong.
  • I'd love to know how to get in touch with those guys to tell them about mistakes - if you put in my street address in Mapquest, you get directed to the other end of the street...
  • More information (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the morgawr (670303) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:43PM (#7410018) Homepage Journal
    NavTech started with a publicly available database used by the census bureau and have been updating, improving, and refining it since.

    On the other hand the census bureau is planning on having a new improved database for the 2010 census that includes every home in America with relative precision in the centimeter range and absolute precision in the meter range. Some of the tech that they use for this is VERY cool stuff.

    You can start learning here [census.gov].

  • My Garmin GPS V uses those. They are very accurate. I've only had them be wrong in a few spots, mainly in tiny little towns. I wish they would update them sooner though and add more landmarks and items.
  • How many times has this happened to you?

    You follow the directions given by Mapquest and ...end up going down a one-way street. ...forget that bearing right could mean anything from making a turn that is less than 90 degrees right to turning the wheel an inch to the right while driving straight. ...successfully navigate yourself to BLAH BLAH Ave. South when you had typed in BLAH BLAH Ave. North. Congratulations! You are now lost in downtown! (And..no, those two streets could be miles apart and unconnected!
    • Ok, it would look better like this, heh.

      How many times has this happened to you?

      You follow the directions given by Mapquest and

      ...end up going down a one-way street.

      ...forget that bearing right could mean anything from making a turn that is less than 90 degrees right to turning the wheel an inch to the right while driving straight.

      ...successfully navigate yourself to BLAH BLAH Ave. South when you had typed in BLAH BLAH Ave. North. Congratulations! You are now lost in downtown! (And..no, those two stree

    • Indeed. Numbered streets just plain make sense. It'd be fine if the names were nicknames, but don't make the numbers impossible to read, and certainly don't make the names "official".
    • I have, while following mapquest directions, ended up at an underpass where the next step was to get on the highway overhead.... Unfortuantaly there wasn't an enterance to said highway for miles in either direction. I figured that this was some poor algorithmic decision, but now that I know there's some obvoiusly malicious human entering intersection data I'm even more annoyed!
    • Rochester, NY.

      Directions for Alexander St involved driving through an intersetion for Alexander St, going to the next block and making 3 right turns.
  • WTF... ? (Score:3, Funny)

    by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:47PM (#7410050) Homepage
    An Interesting Story ?

    Give mea break, Its hardly a 300 words article and what is so interesting about it ?

    I couldn't get anything from the article, the real interesting part is the routing and not mapping. But the only information I found about routing was....

    Moss opens up a "Shmem," or shared memory file, and puts in all the new info. When she gets back to the office, the heavy lifting starts.

    "Usually it takes about twice the time to code it as it does to drive," Moss says. "There's so much information to put in."

    Oh so they use Shmem , wow that's sooooo interesting.

  • TIGER (Score:3, Informative)

    by mmdurrant (638055) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:48PM (#7410064) Homepage

    It surprises me that they didn't use the TIGER [census.gov] data, available from the US Census Bureau. [census.gov]

    Klynas Engineering [klynas.com] makes a great product called Streets-On-A-Disk that covers any mapping need you might have. I used it as the mapping backend for a custom automatic vehicle location package I wrote. The software has a nifty API interface for external control and works great. The tech support rocks too - Scott, the president of the company and the guy who wrote the program, has provided me with tons of useful info. I have no interest in the company, I'm just a very satisfied customer.

  • What I want to see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Judg3 (88435) <jeremy.pavleck@com> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:49PM (#7410070) Homepage Journal
    I want Navtech to team up with a couple of the large carriers, like Schneider National [schneider.com], Werner Enterprises [werner.com], JB Hunt [jbhunt.com] and the other large trucking companies. These 3 companies, and many more, already have GPS transponders in the truck that track their locations and report back in realtime via Satellite.
    Now, when a driver sees major road construction, etc, on major interstates they simply hit a button on their QualComm OmniTracs [qualcomm.com] unit marking it as such. After so many drivers have done this, it marks the area as being under construction, with a little bit of info about what's going on (resurfacing, 3 lanes closed westbound from 9pm-4am at milemarker 139 to 177 until 12/16/03) and mapquest inturns adds that data to it's routing database.
    This would be an excellent way for mapquest to add a pay-for service that I for one would definately use.
  • If they'd outfit those two with digital cameras, so they can take GPS-tagged (or at least date-tagged, to be later GPS'd from a log) pictures as they go.

    At the very least, it'd be neat to have landmark and interchange photos up there.
  • and their maps SUCK (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:55PM (#7410149) Homepage
    I had to suffer with navtech maps for my autopc nav system. their maps are low quality, very limited in the amount of data and they ask a major premium for them.

    Maps based on the US census Tiger data sets that are available FREE online are more useable than anything that navtech has ever produced.

    I als used the GM navigation system that also is crippled by NAVTECH maps. now I look carefully, if I see navtech anywhere on the map or device I will not touch it.

    • I had to suffer with navtech maps for my autopc nav system. their maps are low quality, very limited in the amount of data and they ask a major premium for them.

      And I've had to suffer from more than a few friends and relatives deciding that they don't need directions to get to my place, instead relying on their trusty automotive GPS with a map database.

      The promise is that I live in a fairly rural part of New Hampshire (Grantham, NH), and unless you've chosen to come to my place via I-89, then you're us

  • by MImeKillEr (445828) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:57PM (#7410171) Homepage Journal
    My subdivision is a little over 3 years old. We're on all the other maps, but not MapQuest. Repeated emails to them to get this corrected have gone nowhere.

    Odd thing is, if I map to the Albertson's near my house and then scroll down in their map, I see our subdivision. If I map to our address, none of the streets display.

    Kinda sucks when you tell someone you need to give them directions when they say they'll just map it using MapQuest.

    At least MapBlast [msn.com] works. Whether or not it'll do better now that Microsoft owns them remains to be seen.

    Their LineDrive maps are better anyway.
    • Mod parent up. Mapblast rocks, I kind of got worried when Microsoft took it over. Line drive directions are much easier to see than actual maps. They are the sort of maps someone draws for you when you ask for directions: no extraneous information, just the turns you need to make, and it normally includes one street before the turn to get you ready.
  • about 123 maplewood lane, arcadia, georgia:

    my mailbox is actually a foot to the left of where it is as shown on your maps

    about ridgewood lane, templeton, massachusettes:

    there is a little too much curve to the second right hand turn as shown on your maps. it's more like a hard angle than a curve

    could you fix these two things?

    thanks
  • I wonder if these two actually drove around the 5 block circle that second time it appeared in my directions, or just logged it as "known path"?
  • by Emil Brink (69213) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @03:59PM (#7410202) Homepage
    "I use the pen tool to write down names of roads or explain any significant changes to what we currently have in the database," she says.
    Ghee, that really is some sophisticated technology they're using to solve these problems. Driving around in cars, using "pen tools" to "write down" information. It really smacks of the new millenium! ;^)
  • by bwaynef (692229) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:00PM (#7410206) Journal
    A lotta folks are saying they don't understand why theres not some huge network of volunteers that are helping out. I'd also think that this would be beneficial to the entire digitized world, but for the simple fact that I would not want my charity to be used by a company to make their $$. If however someone with more time/programming-skills than I decided they'd lend their time to building a free solution then I'm sure volunteers would pop out of the wood work. (Free as in, the cd's and data distributed by users who aren't searching on the web.)
  • I'd guess that they have Ray Charles making their maps. I've had better luck with a 10 year old Thomas Street Guide.
  • I've had much better luck with MS MapPoint than ANY online service. The driving directions and printed map quality are excellent. I moved to NC from TX a year and a half ago and its been a real lifesaver even with local directions. I'd highly recommend paying for it than using any free online service; haven't gotten lost once!
  • Riiiight (Score:3, Funny)

    by SamMichaels (213605) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:07PM (#7410283)
    Tell them to drive through Williamsburg, VA again. I got SO lost last weekend courtesy of Mapquest...
  • A couple of months ago, I had to go to the Hamilton Court (45 Main St. E) in Ontario for a speeding ticket. Following Mapquest directions, I ended up in St. Catherines, was late, convicted in absentia, had to file for a reopening, etc. etc. and what should've been a 30 min deal ended up costing me 6 hours.

    Hamilton court is probably the busiest in Ontario, as Hamilton City Police is very large and they produce a lot of speeding tickets (in Ontario there aren't a lot of toll roads, speed limits are kept ar

    • That's really bizarre.

      St. Catherine's and Hamilton are like 20-30 kms away, and there's really only the QEW as a major road between them. And it's pretty obvious when you're leaving Hamilton.

      Not to flame, but your story reminds me of why I almost never use things like Mapquest. Just get a good road atlas and follow exit signs, and you sure as hell won't drive 30kms out of your way :)
  • by tommck (69750) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:10PM (#7410305) Homepage
    Back in the day, UPS started with the TIGER maps (created by the Census Bureau) and then used their truck drivers to change the maps when there were problems. This made a hell of a lot of sense, since they were driving there anyway!

    Of course, if you wanted to license them, they were US$3,000 per quadrangle (7 1/2 minutes Longitued by 7 1/2 minutes Latitude) in 1991! It was a bit much. It was cheaper for us to take the TIGER maps and aerial photos and have people in the Dominican Republic redo the maps!

  • In Tucson the I10 and I19 are under heavy construction so I wonder how long it will take for those guys to visit Tucson and get the maps updated. In the last two years several freeway exits have been removed from the freeway to never be reopened. Some roads now require drivers to get off at an earlier offramp and take a frontage road to the street you want.

    I know that sites like mapsonus.com have a link to e-mail them about wrong/changed roads on the maps, but if it's really just up to two guys driving aro
  • It's Cool, I Know Him. [penny-arcade.com]

    Ok, so it's about Yahoo Maps instead of MapQuest, but I still think it applies.
  • by switcha (551514) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:22PM (#7410455)
    I just bought a new house, but our old one was on a dead end street and in an area where the dead ends turn into little foot paths. By the city maps, all the footpaths are technically road. As we were looking at city zoning and utility maps before selling, not a one recognized that they listed several of the roads in our area as roads when they are essentially forest. MapQuest has our dead ends listed perfectly.

    I figured it was either done manually or maybe tied into a database by the road department as they pave things.

  • Give this assignment to the Geocachers [geocaching.com]. They'd actually ENJOY the work!

  • by suwain_2 (260792) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:24PM (#7410481) Journal
    I can't imagine life without being able to get directions, and a custom-made map, to somewhere an hour and a half away that no one's ever heard of. I really don't think I could navigate with a paper map anymore.

    But technology's most amusing when it all blows up. I wish I could find the link, but I distinctly remember reading about some lady who tried to plot an intracity voyage, and got routed through about 12 states -- even venturing into Canada for a while. (Does anyone else remember this?) And someone I know was talking about how on a recent trip, he tried navigating only by GPS; it worked perfectly, until it had him turn down onto what was a dead-end street. It turns out that the GPS assumed he could drive about 100' through the woods, up a steep embankbent, to get onto the highway. (I suppose it would have been a convenient shortcut, if only he had been in a Hummer and had a chainsaw for those pesky trees.)
    • by TFloore (27278) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @06:07PM (#7411761)
      But technology's most amusing when it all blows up. I wish I could find the link, but I distinctly remember reading about some lady who tried to plot an intracity voyage, and got routed through about 12 states -- even venturing into Canada for a while. (Does anyone else remember this?)
      You're looking for this amusing Microsoft Expedia routing mis-adventure [netbsd.org] from 1999.

      Scroll down about half way to "Subject: Maybe Microsoft owns stock in Canada?".

      Google search for "mapquest ferry funny"... link #6 for me. You have to know what you're loking for in order to find it. Isn't it always that way?
  • Our house sits at a 4-way intersection with two of the four directions leading to dead ends. But MapQuest and a few other major maps show one of these streets to be through to the a road the other side of the cul-de-sac. Heck, you can't even see the other road from the cul-de-sac. I've seen plenty of folk driving around the cul-de-sac with a quizical look. But even if it were a through street, I dunno how many people would take it--at that point the other 'street' is, in fact, a narrow dirt track leadin

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