Mapping the future

words - Mike Bantick
Getting from A to B with technology is only as good as the last update of the map you are following. With our ever-expanding road infrastructure your next journey may depend on it.

For turn-by-turn navigation these days the options are plentiful, whether you employ your smart phone app, buy a dedicated satellite navigation device, fire up and integrated infotainment navigation system, flip open the Mel/Bris/Sydways, or simply ask for directions. However, the results you get will only be as good as the currency of the data.

That data is expanding and morphing as you read this. Last year in Australia, HERE, a Navman mapping company, added 42,000 kilometres of new roads, changed over 7500 street names, changed 10,000 turn restrictions, 1800 one way streets, and 1800 road directional signs on its Australian map system.

In smartphone territory there are plenty of options for dedicated navigation apps, but the most common is Google Maps. Google reports that updates to the worldwide mapping service occur approximately twice a month, but that will vary from region to region.

Apple Maps replaced Google Maps as the integrated map application on iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad when version six of the operating system rolled out. The application was much maligned by those who had been dependent on Google Maps, and when GM became an app, many downloaded it in preference. Apple Maps updates have been regular, but from reports there are problems still affecting accuracy.
If you drive a vehicle with an integrated sat-nav system, experiences will also vary. For many updates to the maps will be via DVD or during a service which can prove to be both expensive and none-to-frequent.

Dedicated satellite navigation units probably provide the best balance of cost, performance and currency. Many provide “lifetime” map updates, which eases the burden of cost, but perhaps not the flexibilty of staying up-to-date.

Many of the recent dedicated devices include 3G and other forms of connectivity to show live traffic reports and congestion, but even this constant connectivity does not guarantee the frequency of map updates.

Look around when next in the car, particularly in urban environments, road configurations are constantly changing. Road-works bend freeways in new directions to better cope with traffic levels or to cater to new facilities. The City of Sydney recently announced it would spend $1.9 billion on new infrastructure. In the May Federal Budget, the Australian Government also announced new infrastructure projects across Australia with a value of $3.8 billion in Victoria, $2 billion in Queensland (plus $4.1 billion for Bruce Highway), $1.1 billion in Western Australia, $577 million in South Australia and $180 million in Tasmania.

Navman has recognised this issue as a gap in the market, producing a new range of Personal Navigation Devices (PND) with monthly map updates.

Rapid Map Refresh will provide verified and validated monthly map updates on an automatic basis to the new Navman devices. Monthly updates are made to new roads, junctions, safety alerts including speed cameras, school zones and red light cameras, as well as new points of interests such as sporting venues, hospitals and airports. The updates also include new roads under construction.
“In today’s fast-paced world, people expect to have the latest and most accurate information as soon as possible. It just made sense for us to ensure drivers also have access to the most up-to-date details on the road with the Rapid Map Refresh function on our MY450LMT model and free lifetime maps updated quarterly on the EZY250LM and MY400LMT models.” said Wendy Hammond, Country Director for Navman Australia.
“I think people are not aware of how many changes occur. Not only are there new roads, new traffic alerts and cameras, but also changes like the local names of areas, for example East Redfern in Sydney became known as Moore Park simply because locals began calling the area Moore Park and Kings Cross isn’t actually a suburb,” Hammond said.

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Published : Tuesday, 30 July 2013
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