Iceland Mag

12 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Don't trust Google Maps blindly: Company fails to update maps despite repeated requests

By Staff

  • Breiðdalsheiði heath Road signs alert travellers to the fact that they are leaving the Ring Road, warn that the road can be impassable in winter. Google Maps meanwhile assures drivers they are still on the Ring Road. Photo/Björgvin.

UPDATE: January 31 2018. Google has updated its map, which now correctly labels the Ring Road in East Iceland. However, Google Maps still contains various errors which can send travellers down the wrong road. 

Read more: Remember: Don't trust Google Maps blindly when travelling in Iceland

Despite repeated attempts the Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority has been unable to get a hold of anyone at Google who could ensue that maps of Iceland are up to date. A spokesman for the IRCA told the National Broadcasting Service RÚV that out-of-date Google Maps could direct unsuspecting travellers onto impassable heath roads.

"It seems impossible to get a hold of someone at Google. Our road network changes regularly, and their maps are not up to date. This is a problem because large numbers of travellers rely on Google Maps."

Ring Road in East Iceland changed due to tourism
Last fall the Ministry of Transportation changed the designation of roads in East Iceland, moving the Ring Road down from Breiðdalsheiði heath to the coast. The decision to change the designation of the roads in the Eastfjords was made because Breiðdalsheiði heath is more prone to become impassable in the winter than the roads closer to the coast. In recent years foreign travellers have repeatedly gotten stuck in snow on the heath.

Google has not updated its maps accordingly, despite repeated attempts by the IRCA to alert the company to the change. As a consequence Google Maps is still directing travellers onto the heath.

Don't trust Google Maps blindly
Signs along the road alert drivers to the fact that heath is not part of the Ring Road, but foreign travellers appear to trust their smartphones and Google Maps better than road signs. ICE-SAR in East Iceland has responded to 20 emergency calls for assistance from travellers who got stuck on the heath thinking they were driving along the Ring Road. 

Read more: Travellers don't understand that signs reading "impassable" mean road is, in fact, impassable

The director of ICE-SAR in East Iceland told RÚV that the number one explanation given by travellers who get stuck on the heath is that the road was marked as part of the Ring Road in Google Maps. "This problem will hopefully go away when the maps in GPS navigation systems are updated."

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