February 18, 2008

Street Number Issues on GPS Maps

The Boston Globe published an article yesterday that highlighted an issue that may be the next one to solve for GPS makers and their map suppliers; Street Number inaccuracies. Typically, the map maker will take a look at a street, see that house numbers go from 1 - 200 and then evenly distribute those numbers along the length. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If you use a GPS, you've probably already noticed when searching for a specific business address or house number, and the GPS tells you that you've arrived, and you actually have another 200 yards (or more) to go to actually get there, you know what I am talking about.

The Boston Globe picked out a particularly bad situation where a street is bisected by a train track, and ended up in the situation where they were on one side of the tracks with the unit saying "You have arrived", while the actual house is on the other side of the tracks.

I'll admit that GPS units still have a long way to go in order to be perfect in every case, but that generally they get people unfamiliar with the area to the place they need to go within a reasonably short amount of time. The article below does pick on the TomTom a bit to see if the unit knows Boston as well as the locals do. A lot to ask in the city of cowpath-based streets, but they do point out some areas that GPS units and their suppliers need to consider when making the next generation better.

We set out on a mission to stump the TomTom, one of the new generation of Global Positioning Satellite devices that stick to the windshield with a suction cup and promise to eliminate the need to ever open a map or ask for directions.

ReadMore at the Boston Globe

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Posted by Scott Martin at February 18, 2008 6:41 AM

Recent Comments

May it not be a data storage problem ? What storage space would it take to precisely geolocate EVERY street number of EVERY street and road in the US ? Would it fit on the current SD cards ? As opposed as to geolocate the first and last number of every street between intersections, like today... I don't know, i'm just asking.

Posted by: olivier at March 2, 2008 11:26 AM


You are absolutely right - the map data providers are the ones that have the actual locations off for house and business numbers. The lines will blur as TomTom acquires TeleAtlas though...


Posted by: Scott Martin at February 19, 2008 6:43 AM

Take care that here the faulty is not the GPS by itself but the data providers (TeleAtlas/Navteq). If they do not give precise information (=real positioning of each street number), the GPS can not give precise information.

Posted by: Pascal at February 18, 2008 9:33 AM

well how would a street map do any better?

Posted by: drinklime at February 18, 2008 9:14 AM
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