Australia Maps snafu was the government’s fault

By , Dec 11, 2012

When the town of Mildura was showing up inside iOS Maps in the middle of Australia’s Murray Sunset National Park, users were quick to point out that Apple’s data was 43 miles off the town’s actual location. It was already too late: the police issued a public warning as some iPhone-totting travelers had gotten lost in the Park’s maze-like roadways. That the area has poor cell reception and lacks water supply didn’t help either.

Apple has corrected the problem since and now we’ve learned that particular snafu wasn’t Apple’s fault in the first place: the company simply re-used the data supplied by the state of Victoria…

The Register has the story:

The Australian Gazetteer – the authoritative list of 300,000-plus placenames, complete with coordinates – includes two Milduras. One is the “real” town, the other is an entry for “Mildura Rural City”, coordinates -34.79724 141.76108. It’s this second entry that points to the middle of the Murray-Sunset National Park, just near a spot called Rocket Lake.

The Gazetteer is run by the Geosciences Australia agency which uses official mapping data provided by the state of Victoria.

The non-scandal also raises the question of how on Earth could the state of Victoria mix up its own cities. If you ask me, an example like this teaches us that maps are tough.

Ultimately, the quality of geographical data in digital maps is directly dependent on reviewers double-checking location inputs, quality control teams controlling reviewers’ work and managers overseeing quality control departments.

Of course, it would have been better if Apple’s Maps team had spotted incorrect data before shit hit the fan, though the company should be credited for moving quickly to fix the entry.

That in and of itself should be an encouraging sign, no?

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  • http://www.shoutpedia.com/ a_usman

    Now I know how much a company can be powerful. :)

    • Emre SUMENGEN

      Well, you don’t even hear anything about Google… What does that make you feel? :)

      This is the business…

      Tomtom, or others, even ones that ONLY work for providing mapping data have faults. But, I guess it’s much harder when you’re Apple (big Apple that everyone wants to have a bite)…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

    Can we be serious for once and stop making it seem like none of this is Apple’s fault? They were given the data, yes, but didn’t look at it. The same way that most of their mapping data is from TomTom (used by Nokia, Google, and Bing), yet they still have mapping problems all over the place. It WAS Apple’s fault for not looking at the data they were given, not making sure it was right, and implementing it that way.
    *Edit – Just adding what I’ve replied to people with*
    1) Apple is not entirely responsible for this, but they aren’t without blame either.
    2) This was NOT in the Outback/middle of nowhere Australia, it was in a tourist destination. It should have been checked before.
    3) The data they were given had BOTH locations, BOTH of which are technically correct. It was implemented wrongly though.

    • CollegiateLad

      Then, likewise, Apple gets the credit for fixing it. And it’s Gazetteer’s (and the govenrment’s) fault for passing along faulty map data without checking its accuracy beforehand. Everyone should be held accountable.

      In the future, when someone gives you their address, you don’t take their word for it… You double check. lol

      How does a government not know its own location?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        They do get credit for fixing yet, but the data they were given had both towns in it, not just the wrong one.
        *Edit* And I never said either wasn’t accountable, they both were, but implying Apple is completely without fault is wrong and misguided.

      • CollegiateLad

        Nobody ever said Apple is without fault. Had you read the article, you would have noticed Christian said Apple should have verified(in the second to last paragraph). That makes YOU the misguided one.

      • Emre SUMENGEN

        I don’t think he read it at all… He was just so busy telling me to read it over again :) LOL

      • Emre SUMENGEN

        As saying Apple is the sole responsible…

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        Which I never said, and neither did the author of this article. How about you read again?

      • charlie

        take credit?hahaha

    • Ignacio Irigoyen

      Sorry, but what you are saying shows a complete ignorance of data size. Do you have any idea how much time would it take Apple (or any other companies check coordinate by coordinate that everything is correct.

      Between Countries, cities, towns, villages, parks, etc spotting an error is near to impossible.
      Do you thing Google or Nokia check very bit of data? No, they post the data they get and fix it if there is an error later.

      Maybe you with your superior mind can check it all, then again someone with your superior mind shouldn’t have posted something so moronic

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        The data was given to them by an agency that had looked it over, and it included both towns, BOTH of which were correct. Yes, it’s a massive amount of data, but Apple has teams all over the world to check this stuff out, not just the (now gone) Scott Forestall. It’s not like this is some remote place in Australia, it’s a tourist destination, so it should have been on the list of major places to check. I could have understood if this was in the middle of the Outback, but it’s not.

      • Ignacio Irigoyen

        Yea, again you are not thinking the size of the data, I understand that because is a tourist destination it has “priority” but more than other cities? or other tourist destinations, not only on Australia but on the rest of the world? it would require too many people just to check something it is supposed to be right and was given to you by the government !!!!

        You do not take your car to another mechanic after another mechanic fixed it just to be sure

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        You do realize Apple employs people in other countries right? They have massive teams behind each release, every product. They have people who’s whole job is to look at data like this, all day, every day.

        And after I get my car fixed, I *do* have it looked over again to make sure. It’s called being prepared, and know it was done right.

      • Ignacio Irigoyen

        Again size, there is a reason we use machines like satellite image, and play photography and not a line of people walking in line taking note of everything they find.
        Apple might have other people on other countries working, I do not know (and I doubt you have any real first hand knowledge into this), but what I know (given I work with similar amount of data my self) that the amount of people require to re check all this it will be outside the size of any one company. It is a simple matter of cost/benefit.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        I’ve talked to people who work at Apple, so yeah, I do know some of their behind the scenes stuff. Yes, it’s a MASSIVE amount of data, but Apple has bought up how many companies now? It’s not just them anymore. If it were only ever one company doing this, we’d never have any sort of maps besides paper ones. You can bet your ass, though, that from now on, Apple will be going through that data with a fine tooth comb.

        And thanks for insulting my intelligence when you know nothing about me. Real mature.

      • CollegiateLad

        Haha… You have talked to people who work at Apple? Awesome.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        As odd as that is, yeah. Very random encounters, and never anyone very high up, but very interesting to hear about it there.

      • charlie

        but you have to admit gmaps is better than crapple maps

      • Sun 949

        you do know when google maps was launched, don’t you? Close to 8yrs in running.

      • Tr1pTr0p

        You, know, there’s a thing for that, it’s called BETA TESTING! And I do not want to be a part of it!

    • Falk M.

      QFT.
      They are rightfully held responsible, however they can’t be blamed, because quite frankly, if they started to verify every detail they’d never ship their product.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mykelxmonroe Mykel Monroe

    You mean to say that Apple should be able to monitor every single point on Earth, travel to it, and ensure that it’s in the correct place? And that they should have know that this particular town was located wrong even when the country that supplied the data is wrong? Surely you’re joking? I love Apple but they can’t be responsible for everything can they? Especially not something that they had no place in creating. Speaking specifically of this instance. I have no issue with the Maps. It gets me from A to B without a problem. Maybe if I was traveling through the boonies of Australia I might sweat it alittle. But as someone who has traveled alot in life I find that an actual physical, (paper), map would be better for cross country treks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mykelxmonroe Mykel Monroe

      known*

    • Mohammad Ridwan

      That’s why Google Maps will always win… You can change the map yourself with Google Mapmaker… Apple won’t allow crowdsourcing…

      • http://www.facebook.com/mykelxmonroe Mykel Monroe

        I disagree with you there. You can add corrections and locations in the Maps app. It just has to go through Apple first.

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      If they’re going to be playing big brother, well yes, by all means they should be held responsible for all the issues.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mykelxmonroe Mykel Monroe

        How do you mean they act like big brother? The design products and sell them. That’s not big brother. If anyone is big brother we should point fingers at other juggernauts around who make money off selling your info. Read “1984” to understand the term big brother.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Ain’t it obvious enough fanboy? Why do you think you can’t downgrade to any desired older iOS version without some hack?

      • http://www.facebook.com/mykelxmonroe Mykel Monroe

        Explain to me why YOU think you can’t downgrade? And while you’re at it explain to me why you would want to. Me? Why would I downgrade to something that has less feature or is outdated? I can wait for them to JB my iPhone running iOS 6. I’m patient. Don’t call me a fanboy troll. Why the hell are you here anyway? Gtfo.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Hahahahaha, sounding lost like all iTards; no logical reasoning, nor questioning, just believe what the herd master, Crapple, says. Give it a try iDiot, get ANY OFFICIAL pre-iOS6.0.1 firmware for your iDevice (here on iDownloadBlog) and see if you don’t get an error during restoring to older firmware via iTunes.

        Still can’t see all the problems with iOS 6 after all the news here on iDownloadBlog? Think iOS 6 brings any new features that haven’t been available as a jailbreak tweak for a while? No surprise there, others in your herd are just the same; blind followers of Crapple’s behind, who can’t afford to think for themselves.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mykelxmonroe Mykel Monroe

        Lawlz. Believe me, I know all about downgrading and jailbreaking and resulting benefit of the latter. You call me lost and without reasoning? Oh, I forgot. We don’t know each other but one paragraph on the Internet.

  • charlie

    crapple crapple….fault is fault

    • Falk M.

      Yeah, how dare you have an interest in knowing why an error slipped.
      It’s obviously much wiser to shut your ears, go “LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!!” and sing the song of blame.

      Very wise, Mister.
      Oh and the “crapple” – so original and eloquent.
      That’s bashing a company like a Sir.
      We have a lot to learn from you!

      • charlie

        thank you, i like sing a song, hihi

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=49402594 Marlber ‘Malberto’ Cruz

    Its not like Apple to find a scape-goat for there maps issues…
    Wait a sec…

    • http://twitter.com/jrgibson1 Jayar

      Are you high or just stupid?
      They have admitted fault in the past for the failure of the Maps data…and now iDB has given an explanation as to why this issue occurred.

      You have a better INTELLIGENT explanation as to why this happened—I doubt it.

      • charlie

        so dont said apple maps superior than other maps like crapple engineer

      • http://twitter.com/jrgibson1 Jayar

        Sure your words were in English, but that was a horrible sentence. Want to try that again, please?

    • Falk M.

      I want to see you map the world and not make some horrible mistakes due to machines doing all the work for you.

      Because quite frankly, you can’t expect everything to be put together and verified by hand.
      You’re just trying to troll man.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    tomtom all day every day and night

  • http://www.facebook.com/jawn.weedbix Sandy Cook

    Having more than one independent source for map data would have been a good idea…

    • Falk M.

      *sigh*

      The map data does come from multiple map vendors.

      However, there mostly is just ONE official place of government agencies.
      They used that, too in addition to their map data for pin pointing cities and stuff.
      Well, turns out the data was correct but the software malinterpreted it.
      It’s a bit like when you use auto-tagging software for your iTunes library with lots of missing track info.
      Often a song is part of multiple albums (the band album, a compilation, maybe even a single, etc etc) so when the software is fed info and there is more than one solution there’s a high risk of the software doing mistakes.

      Of course, applying fairy dust will get rid of this, however, even Apple has yet to find it and learn how to include it into program code.

      I think “#include fairy_dust.h” won’t work…

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Outstanding, they’ve found a scape goat to blame for their big brother issues…how irresponsible have they become without SJ.

  • http://www.facebook.com/benebdon Ben Ebdon

    In London apple maps are spot on.
    Bing lost Israel and Japan last month.
    Google and bing, also last month, were exposed for putting a fake island near Australia which has been on their maps for years – but has never existed.

    It’s not easy to be 100% perfect when you have the entire world to map and keep up to date on.

    My only disappoint with apple maps is that I have sent them corrections and updated info (through the map app) but, thus far, my corrections have been ignored.