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Can You Trust Car Navigation?

This is a subject that comes up frequently in discussions and one that we all wonder about from time to time. We have been in the car navigation business since it started in New Zealand, first working with Navman and then over the years supporting and providing map data to most (not all) brands, where data accuracy is key. I won’t belabour the point that GeoSmart is the only country that continually drives all of New Zealand in our RapidcV mapping car.

If you follow the link above you will see the car not only has many sensors on it, but it also has a pile of cameras. The link explains more about the data the car collects.

In Auckland we have a lab full of specialists in a variety of areas including database, cartography, applications development and more. They source data from a wide range of sources including of course the car, data from central and local government agencies, road transport companies, AA members and the public. They collect, validate and manage data all year round and prepare it for quarterly updates, compile it into various formats for different clients and then our database team uses a variety of Quality Assurance tests for up to a month to try to break the data, in effect to make sure it is as near as possible to bulletproof. Then every quarter we ship the updates to several car navigation companies including of course Navman and TomTom.

The data doesn’t just include exactly where the road is, but also changes to speed zones (to around 10 metres accuracy), roundabouts, traffic lights,road realignments, subdivision updates and much more. Some examples in recent updates include things like the Victoria Park changes including the soutbound viaduct and the northbound tunnel, the Newmarket Switch. It includes lane data and a huge range of Points of Interest from dump sites for campervans and public rest areas through to a wide range of business and recreational locations.

So back to the first question. Can you trust car navigation?

The first answer is whilst our data is 100% driven, validated and mapped, map data is constantly changing and we can’t guarantee the exact completeness at any point in time. We provide an update every 3 months and one of the things you need to consider is how up to date your map data is. If your car nav application uses GeoSmart map data, then they have the latest data and most of them offer free map update deals when you buy a new unit and also ongoing subscriptions to keep your map data current. This is very important.

The image here shows the changes to the Victoria Park Viaduct. If you have old maps, there is every possibility that if you are heading south, your navigation will give you misleading directions based on the old road configuration. For example if you have old maps in your car navigation and are heading to SH16 from the Harbour Bridge, you could be told to keep right then keep left. This should see you on the right hand viaduct which does not provide access to State Highway 16. Now you will have a detour to make, trying to work out how to get back on route. This raises one very important point, you must use your navigation as an aid, in conjunction with what you see outside, while you are driving. If your instructions don’t make perfect sense then don’t follow them. We hear stories of people being told to turn into a canal in Berlin, or wedging their trucks between ancient buildings in Britain. Some common sense would have avoided those incidents.

Assuming you have GeoSmart Maps in your car navigation system and use common sense, then the answer is, yes you can trust your car navigation system. I have been driving with car nav for over 7 years now and I continue to be surprised that there are times when I think the navigation instructions are wrong, (I believe I also ave a very good sense of direction) and the nav found better ways for me to get from A to B even in areas I know pretty well.

Another major factor to consider with car navigation is real time traffic and a number of brands now offer this as a feature. Following is a link to a TV3 experiment where 3 journalists drove from West Auckland to the TV studio. One used TomTom car navigation with HD Traffic (using AA Traffic by GeoSmart), one took the route the locals took and the other followed Google Maps directions. Watch this link to see what happened. I think it proves the point that you can trust quality car navigation devices that have the best current map data.

We welcome your feedback.

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March 5, 2012 - Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, navman, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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