Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am

Confusing times ahead for GPS users.

Here's something we hadn't considered. What will soccer tourists do for the 2010 world cup when their maps or GPSes are wrong and they get lost?

It is all very well warning them to stay out of crime hotspots but if those areas are known by another name by 2010, the GPS info will be incorrect and thousands of tourists may be left wondering the country lost having to stop 'friendly' locals for directions.

We need a moratorium on this insane obsession by the ANC to change the names of thousands of streets and sites. We need to allow map and GPS cartographers to catch up. This is an avoidable problem.

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Government's aggressive name changing policy is becoming problematic for cartographers.

Tourists might find themselves lost in the streets of SA come 2010, if the name change process does not speed up and include the creators of digital maps, says Tracks4Africa.

Digital cartographers have stated, in media reports, that global positioning system (GPS) users will have to update their units more frequently and at greater costs.

"Most people tend to update their GPSes every so often and some are using units with maps that are over a year old," says Tracks4Africa spokesman Johann Groenewald. "The problem will be that during 2010, tourists might not be clued up on the various name changes and new streets."

Groenewald explains the process of name changing and building new streets is not announced in time for GPS distributors and digital cartographers to update their maps. He says cartographers tend to upload both the old and new names of places and streets in order to quell confusion for motorists.

"We, at Tracks4Africa, update our maps every four months depending on any severe changes and we also receive more than 15 submissions from the public for any recent name changes," Groenewald says.

TeleAtlas Africa director of sales and marketing John Dann was quoted in Wheels24 saying older generation GPS units have to display two or three duplicate names on the same street segment.

"This could confuse users, who could erroneously conclude that the GPS information is wrong. They will then criticise the manufacturers and the distributors. And unless we receive information on the proposed changes in time to send the updates to the international market, visitors will experience problems in the future."

TeleAtlas and Tracks4Africa say the metropolitans that will experience the most problems due to street name changes include Durban, Cape Town and Tshwane.

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