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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Google Maps Accidentally Directs Tourists To A Small Village

Google’s mapping data may be among the best digitally available but the application has been playing havoc on at least one small town in Norway, with waves of tourists being accidentally directed there. The village of Fossmork has great views of the world-famous Preikestolen cliff thanks to its location just across the fjord from the landmark. While at least some of the tourists in question are likely to be arriving there deliberately – perhaps trying to get a different view of the iconic cliff – the road to get to the landmark itself is actually a full 19 miles away from the village. However, Google Maps has reportedly been sending tourists to the village by mistake as well, with as many as 15 vehicles showing up on a daily basis according to reports from the local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad.

Google has responded to the error, urging people to report the issue. The search giant says that those reports are really required to continue improving the app and fixing issues like this one. For the meantime, residents of Fossmork appear to have mixed feelings about the whole affair. For example, one resident named Gunnar Bøe has indicated that he welcomes the opportunity to meet people drawn to the landmark from widely varying cultures – one American tourist had even discussed buying a cabin in the area after talking with Bøe. Other tourists, on the other hand, are not so easy to deal with. According to Bøe, the travelers are often confused and will get “quite upset,” not quite understanding how they have ended up in the wrong place. He adds that the road into the village isn’t very wide, which only adds to the frustration when they are told they must turn around and go back to get to the landmark since tour-oriented minibusses are among the vehicles being misdirected into Fossmork.

Google’s mapping data has only gotten better over the last several years and the company even opened up publicly last week about its use of deep learning to improve the service further. Most users are fairly confident that the algorithms behind the associated application will get them to where they’re going and at least one government official is even rumored to have talked recently about using Maps’ underlying data to solve a border dispute. That said, the mildly problematic goings-on in Fossmork, Norway have shown once again that no application or software is perfect and that reporting an error is vital to continued improvement.

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Younes Derfoufi

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