The PhoneBoy Blog


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The Problem With GPS and Mapping

When I pull up the GPS on the Nokia N95 while I am at home, I am constantly reminded of what irritates me about GPS and most all maps for that matter: They are never up to date enough. My first experience with GPS was when we were visiting my wife’s friends, who lived in Chattanooga, TN. This was probably four or five years ago. We flew into Nashville and drove several hours to Chattanooga. The rental car, coincidently, had the Hertz “Neverlost” system, which after the experience I had, deemed it “always lost.” After a certain point on the map, it refused to believe a certain Interstate Highway we were driving on existed, causing strange routing. We ignored it and went with the directions we had.

About a year or two ago, they started building a road that runs right along one side of my house. Kind of hard for me not to notice this. The road finally opened in November of 2006, so it’s been around 6 months or so. None of the mapping services online show this road yet. The satellite view of the area from Google does not show a completed road. Ironically, the Smart2Go map inside my Nokia N95 has the more accurate map of the area, though it only shows a partially completed road. I have to assume it would never route me over that road if I asked it to.

So as I was explaining these issues to my father-in-law, who told me with his years of Air Force Pilot experience, that it has always been a problem, it occurred to me that with the Nokia N95 and other mobile phones with GPS built in, we have an interesting opportunity here. User updated maps. Think Wikipedia, but for maps.

What if, from my mobile phone, I could somehow indicate “hey, there’s a road here.” I could tell the phone “start recording my path” and “stop here.” Fill in the path traced by my GPS data as a road, give it a name, and upload it to some central server. Someone could check it or correlate the data with other people who might upload similar corrections and either update the maps or provide some kind of “community” overlay to the official maps.

I can’t be the only person who thinks this is a good idea.


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