Google still gets lost in Ghent
Four months after the start of a new circulation plan, changing traffic streams through the city of Ghent, Google Maps still has not updated its data to the new situation. This leads to tourists depending on Google Maps based navigation systems breaking traffic rules because their satnav tells them so.
The city of Ghent sent digital maps containing the new traffic situations as dictated by the circulation plan to all satnav-providers some four months ago. As the new circulation plan was implemented in April, most of the providers had quickly updated their systems. Half of April Google already promised it “would fix it as soon as possible“.
It is totally unclear why Google Maps so far has failed to update its data, especially because apps for smartphones can be updated continuously in contrast to fixed car based gps systems and paper maps. Waze, a satnav application also owned by Google, had adapted to the new situation one day after the start of the new circulation plan in Ghent.
Ghent’s Mobility alderman Filip Watteeuw (Groen) admits he has no power over Google, but points out the company carries a responsibility. “People have become dependent on navigation systems. It comes as a shock that this system turns out to be faulty. What if an accident is caused because of this? I wonder how a judge would rule on that. It makes me feel uneasy.”
Updating navigation systems is not always easy. When the city of Antwerp started a self-developed navigation app ‘Slim naar Antwerpen’ (the clever way to Antwerp), it offered wrong suggestions. Antwerp’s Mobility alderman Koen Kennis (N-VA) also admits he is powerless against the satnav companies.
“It is a shame how some navigation providers don’t alert their users of our low-emission zone in the city centre, but at the end of the day it remains their decision to adapt or not.” He however does not have the impression that communication with Google is more complex than with other companies, a feeling that his Brussels counterpart Els Ampe (Open VLD) echoes.
“Working on it”
Michiel Sallaets, communication manager with Google in Belgium, has no explanation why the – admittedly – more complex new traffic data in Ghent have not been implemented in Google Maps, in contrast to the Antwerp and Brussels situation. “We are looking into the problems and try to solve them as quickly as possible.”