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Death by GPS

2011-02-03 23:10:12.121149+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

Sacramento Bee: 'Death by GPS' in desert.

"It's what I'm beginning to call death by GPS," said Death Valley wilderness coordinator Charlie Callagan. "People are renting vehicles with GPS and they have no idea how it works and they are willing to trust the GPS to lead them into the middle of nowhere."

[ related topics: Maps and Mapping ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-04 00:28:47.286562+00 by: ebradway

"Some of the databases on the GPS units are showing old roads that haven't been open in 40 years," he said.

If you compare TeleAtlas or NavTeq data to Census TIGER, you'll find that in many rural areas they are identical. That is, both TeleAtlas and NavTeq rely on TIGER data for rural roads. Of course TIGER is only reasonable good in areas where there are people. In vast, unpopulated areas, like Death Valley, the road data most likely comes from the original USGS 7.5" Quandrangles. Much of that data, especially in areas of no population or no significant natural resources, hasn't been re-surveyed since the 1930s and 1940s.

So yeah, unless you are looking at OpenStreetMap and can confirm the data has been updated recently (in the past decade, at least), I would not trust an map of Death Valley.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-04 19:47:16.897812+00 by: nkane

I find that exact issue in Death Valley all the time on the dirt roads. The GPS says there is a road somewhere, and if you tilt your head the right way you can see a slightly discolored line going up the mountain where the road used to be - probably 40 years ago. Getting a national park map at the ranger station or sporting goods store shows the opposite problem - half the obviously usable trails you drive past are not on the map.