Australian government may be the data source for Maps debacle

Richard Chirgwin at The Register:

To be blunt, there is a place called Mildura whose location is given as exactly where Apple put it – at least, there is in an authoritative source for such a location.


In this case, 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.

This just keeps getting crazier.

  • Don’t forget, you’re talking about a country that has freaking platypuses.

  • Colin Linahan

    Doesn’t explain the other big annoyance with maps in Australia. Businesses listed in one town and they’ll actually be located hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. There are quite a few examples just in my home town of 10,000 people. I gave up trying to report them as it isn’t fun trying to drag a pin for that long. This is probably due to a combination of bad yelp data and poor code. Other business listings in the town are many blocks away from their actual location. Data for the next town is just as bad, business listings for locations in other states.

  • Apple Maps gives two locations for the IKEA store at Homebush Bay, one of which (obviously) is wrong. Nokia’s Here app gives only one location for the same store, and it’s identical to the incorrect location Apple Maps gives. Obviously they’ve both bought up the same POI database and it’s going to take some time to sort out the errors.

  • tylernol

    Maybe the Dingo ate the babies there?

  • Apple Maps killed my brother. Prepare to die.

    • Jim H

      I want my maps back, you son of a bitch!

  • Tvaddic

    Wait, is it right in Google Maps though?

    • Ozzer

      It is on the website – type in “Mildura” and it takes you to the city centre.

  • lucascott

    I wondered it was something like this. Although I was thinking it might be more of a city and county with the same name like Los Angeles and Los Angeles County

    • It’s always something like this. True to form, the blogosphere and its chorus of hysterical harpies has turned the Apple Maps saga into near mythology where Apple hand crafted a map of the world fraught with error. The fact of the matter is that Apple bought and/or licensed the data on the back end and only with the data constantly pouring in daily from usage will it be improved and their algorithms tuned. Also true to form, the same putative tech press is incapable of remembering that Google has had 7 years to tune their maps and its not complete either.

      This of course does not relieve Apple of the burden of the problems with the application and its associated data, and they have owned the problem accordingly. But the memes will far outlive the actual problems, as with almost every other Apple trope.

  • A lot of the problems with Aussie businesses comes from the Yelp data – which came from Sensis, which probably got it from whoever makes the Maps.

    In Australia there are a lot of addresses tied to the original Lot on a Rad. eg – Lot 20, Mitchell Hwy. Just refers to the old Lot from 100 years ago when the town was being developed.

    Unfortunately, Sensis and / or Yelp then converts this into 20 Mitchell Hwy which can be a completely different part of town. Most business owners haven’t a clue about the problem and it gets stuck like this.

    As for the “Mildura” entry in the middle of the park. No, there is no excuse for it, just a bad entry by someone.

    But use Maps for pretty much and regional town in Australia and you will get similar mistakes. Trying to fix em but no one is listening.

  • I don’t think an update has to be “pushed out.” The mapping data is updated every day. Thailand has gotten quietly better and better. It’s already better than the dedicated Garmin box I have. And not long ago turn-by-turn live navigation quietly came online. I’m very happy with it. And it so far has always been able to load the entire dataset before I leave the house, which means no cell data usage. No way Google maps can do that.

  • Boo

    Its not like its a secret that there are some issues with Apple’s maps, even mainstream news has been covering it and Apple issued a formal apology acknowledging the problem and advised using alternatives that are currently and prominently featured in the iTunes store. I’m not sure what is in the Aussie iTunes store but in Canada, “find maps for your iPhone” is the first thing you see after “new and note worthy” and Google maps works just fine in Safari.

    If you are going to rely on it while anywhere near large areas of potentially dangerous wilderness after all this and don’t check an alternate source (freely available on the iPhone), you are begging for a Darwin Award.

    • I guarantee you there are plenty of people out there who have no idea there is an issue with Apple’s Maps application.

      • And we’ll just ignore the errors in every other mapping technology and database, because Apple.

    • Tvaddic

      No matter how bad a map is, you shouldn’t be able to potentially die from it, Apple would of had a major lawsuit if someone did.

  • LKM

    The problem here (and with many of the Maps issues) isn’t wrong data per se. It’s that Apple’s algorithm for figuring out what people mean is screwed up. It regularly sends you to small things far away, instead of big things that are near. Google is fantastic at this kind of thing; Apple is horrible.

  • “It wasn’t actually Apple’s fault. It looked bad compared to Google Maps, because the Chocolate Factory has spent an awful lot of money, time and petrol on StreetView and other ways to improve the “ground truth” of its maps – but Apple hasn’t yet had the chance to correct the data it uses as inputs, to any great extent.”

    It’s not Apple’s fault for putting out an inferior product. Got it.

    • Jim H

      That is subjective. Give me a rasting system based on facts and we will see where everyone stands. Difficult really to ascertain though. Do you have any links or data? I don’t jump on bandwagons without knowing where it is going and why. How about you?

      • I’m not entirely sure what you’re getting at here. I just don’t think it makes sense to excuse Apple for not “having a chance” to make their app work properly yet. If the competition has done the work and made a product that sees past erroneous “ground truth” then Apple should have, too – before they released the app.

        This isn’t some photo editing app where a filter is coming out wonky or something. It’s an application people use to figure out how to get places they might never have been before. That’s serious business.

        • Jim H

          No matter what, no matter when, there would have to be room for improvement. How much that improvement needs to be or is I do not know. Just as there is for all map applications and or creators. Knowing exactly what needs to be done and just how accurate or inaccurate the information is, is what I am alluding to. There is no single place that I can see that shows the accuracy of any particular map application creator. Having said that, I think some people, no matter how accurate APple’s map app was would still be overly critical. Because well, they hate Apple.

          • Maybe they wil because maybe they do. But that’s not what I’m getting at.

            Not every criticism of Apple is an expression of hate.

          • Jim H

            I am not sure what you are getting at then. What I am saying is that without any real statistics to show what map app creator is better or worse then much of the criticisms leveled at Apple needs to be scrutinized. Not that every criticism is an expression of hate. But that because of many detractors and the way some people hold Apple to a higher standard and or place them under a magnifying glass, that sometimes it makes me wonder, just how realistic many of these claims are. I use the map app all the time in New England and I have had one problem with it. The pin was off by a few streets. I reported it. It is getting better, it wasn’t, in my opinion “horrible” to begin with.

          • The author claims this wasn’t Apple’s fault because they haven’t yet had a chance to improve their Maps app’s data the way Google has. I took umbrage with that excuse. That is all.

  • Oh? Apple didn’t hand code the data on the back end of Maps? WTF?