How long does it take to fix an map data error?

Miriam at Solasdesign has been doing a series of blog posts about the process of updating erroneous underlying map data from TeleAtlas and Navteq. Miriam’s client had a business on a street in Hayward, Wisconsin that was not shown in Google Maps, MapQuest, Yahoo or MSN. Currently Navteq provides map data to MapQuest, Yahoo and MSN while TeleAtlas provides it to Google Maps.

Today she posted about an actual phone conversation with Mapquest where they clarified the timeframe for NavTeq to get the underlying data fixed:

On a quarterly basis, Navteq sends out drivers (yes, actual drivers in cars) to problem areas that have been reported and they can then update their data with the correct information the drivers collect.

The not-so-great news is that this a long queue process and by the time the data gets corrected by NavTeq (for our client’s town this will be in Navteq’s Jan-March 1st quarter of the year, based upon the time we reported the error), and the corrected data gets sent out to entities like MapQuest, MSN or Yahoo! who are using Navteq data, we would be looking at resolution coming no earlier than May-June of 2009. That’s a long time to wait, but at least we’ve been given a goal to look forward to. I can’t overstate the value of that.

Google switched to using TeleAtlas in a mid September timeframe. The reports of serious underlying map data problems have poured into Google Groups since that time. Miriam first reported this mapping problem to Google shortly after October 18th. How long will it take for the corrections to wind their way into Google Maps?

In general, given that the amount of missing Teleatlas maps data is significant and the high visibility of they have received from their inclusion in Maps causing increased reports, it would be likely to assume that the time to typically fix Google Maps/Teleatlas map data problems could be significantly longer than the 7 to 10 months stated for Navteq if TeleAtlas were using the standard drive and compile strategy.

However, yesterday, TeleAtlas announced a program of broad based integration of community edits into their map data update strategy. I will be reporting on this announcement lat

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
How long does it take to fix an map data error? by

11 thoughts on “How long does it take to fix an map data error?”

  1. Hey, Mike!
    I appreciate you writing about this. It really was great to talk to a real person about this problem.

    I am really confused by Yahoo right now. When I wrote my original post about this, I did a screenshot of Yahoo’s incorrect placement of the client’s address. Ever since then, their whole listing has disappeared and neither a search for their business name nor address will turn up any results at all. Yet, I have the screenshot as proof that it was there, just a couple of weeks ago.

    Does anybody have a phone number for Yahoo Local? I’d sure like to speak with them.


  2. Maps Guide Mike in the google groups about the TeleAtlas update rate:

    The Tele Atlas map database contains hundreds of millions of features
    representing every road, city, park, etc., and hand-editing this data
    is still a delicate process. Google gets new data from Tele Atlas once
    every 3 months, and it currently takes another couple months to fully
    process the error reports for each release. Please look forward to an
    acceleration of these updates in the future.

  3. Mike:
    I have been searching and searching for this answer…..
    How does Google choose who gets on the map. Obviously the more “optimized your listing” will help….but I am seeing some WEAK listings in the top position and I cannot figure out for the the life of me how they got there.

  4. Todd-

    Not sure exactly how to answer your question.

    Have you searched my blog and read the posts on Ranking Factors for Google Maps? Did they provide any insight?

    If not, what about the particular listings that you are looking at makes you question their ranking?


  5. I referenced something about this earlier. I do need to review Miriam’s updates.

    I’m friendly with a long experienced hard mapping person. He has seen his staff shrink away as mapping has moved from hard maps to web versions. Many of his ex-staff now work for the web mapping companies.

    They have relayed to him how the web mapping businesses are far less accurate and detail oriented than the hard mapping companies had been. They don’t do the volume of work to get all details.

    Community input is nice. I wonder if local governments can get involved and pressure the mapping businesses to get more accurate more quickly. It is in the best interests of the community/government in which Miriam’s client is located to get accurate information about this businesses location on the web. It can only assist his business…thereby creating revenues and taxes.

    I know in one instance where one of my businesses was facing a problem that we thought was problematic for our survival we went to our town/county and they were more than willing to step up to the plate on our behalf and help us. After all its to their benefit also. Geez we pay a lot in taxes and fees. 😀

    Go get em, Miriam

  6. I can understand how a drive and verify system could never capture as much detail or currency as the old system.

    But it has finally dawned on me how powerful user generated content is in this area. TeleAtlas was bought out by Tom-Tom, the largest GPS vendor in Europe. Their devices feed GPS location & altitude information back to TeleAtlas in huge quantities that is basically Map ready. So things like road elevation gain , traffic flow etc which could never easily be captured before can be assessed and integrated into the Map. TeletAtlas noted that they get 4x the distance of Europe’s roadways each day in data.

    When you couple that with direct end user feedback via the GPS or via Google Maps so you can prioritize which data needs correcting first, you have an incredible tool that can easily be checked against sattellite images and then integrated into the Map that much quicker. In the podcast they noted that with this new system (which has only been in place for 4 months since the TeleAtlas aquisition of Tom-Tom) they were able to integrate 50,000 changes into their maps.

    So the measure of their success at this will be both accuracy and timeliness. Google and they both have a lot on the line. Can this type of system produce higher quality maps more quickly? Google thinks so.

    It will be interesting to watch Miriam’s test because it will basically pit the two systems against each other and provide some insight into how well each of their correction systems work.


  7. Dave & Miriam

    I am not sure if you saw this post in the Google Groups but it certainly captures the problem with bad map data in the real world:


    My name is Nathan Nguyen and I’m a Engineer with the City of Santa Cruz, Traffic Engineering Division. We have been receiving complaints of large construction vehicles traveling west on “Grandview St” and making U-turns because they are not able to get on to “Western Dr.”
    The east “Grandview St.” approach dead ends and does not connect to
    “Western Dr.”.

    In “Satellite” view on Google Maps it shows the physical barrier / dead end, but in “Map” view it shows the east Grandview St. approach connecting to Western Dr. Note, the problem only exist with the “east Grandview St. approach”,not the “west Grandview St. approach”, the “west Grandview St approach” does connect to Western Dr. and is correct on Google Maps.

    We believe people have been using Google Maps to get onto Western Dr. only to find out Granview St. dead ends. Please update Google Maps to show the correct street layout with no vehicle access from the east Granview St. approach onto Western Dr.

    I appreciate your time and hope to have this resolved soon.

    Kind regards,
    Nathan N. Nguyen
    City of Santa Cruz | Public Works Dept.

  8. Hi Doug

    I doubt that you could conclude one from the other.

    Google’s use of TeleAtlas on all of their products is more likely a long term strategic decision in response to Nokia acquiring NavTeq.

    It also appears from my research that TomToms purchase of TeleAtlas creates a better long term technical solution to getting more map updates more accurately and more quickly.

    That being said I am sure that by consolidating all of their products use to one map data company they are saving considerable money. Hopefully they will be using it on customer service and forward facing staff.

    I have seen some new Google Maps Guide names in Groups lately. Does that mean we won’t have Maps Guide Jen to kick around any more? I hope not. Does that mean she has been promoted? She deserves it!


  9. How do I let MSN know that the old Indianapolis International Airport terminal still comes up when ‘Indianapolis International Airport’ is entered on their Map & Directions Website? The new terminal has been in service for over a year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments links could be nofollow free.