Monday, 1 April 2013

Sat Nav POI

With GPS satellite navigation technology commonplace in handheld devices and smart phones, if you provide services to cyclists it's probably worth the trouble to ensure that the master sat-nav Point Of Interest (POI) databases have your business in their listings. It's essential too that their maps accurately record local cycling infrastructure such as bike lanes or cycle paths. 

You can do this by checking the information held by Navteq, the main publisher of sat-nav databases. Unfortunately there isn't yet an official Bike Aid POI category but we're working on that.

Browse to

Use the search box to find the place you want to report on or click-and-drag the map.

On the left of the web page are 4 main categories:

· Point of Interest. Here you can record or make changes to a shop, business, or other Point of Interest (POI). You can promote your community by listing local businesses as people often use their sat-nav as a 'Yellow Pages'.

· Address Marker/Location. Make changes to the location of a house or building.

· Road or Road Feature. Here you can add, edit or remove roads and road features such as signs, one-ways, or restrictions.

· Other not listed.

But if you right-click on a road itself, a dialogue box pops up:

· Edit details of this road

· Exit/Roundabout is new

· Turn restrictions have changed

· Signs are different

· Other categories

Click ‘edit details of this road’ and you will get a choice of:

· Edit Road Segment Details

· Data is correct, I want to report something else

If you click 'road segment' you can report any one-way restrictions, change the class of road, note any vehicle restrictions, the type of road surface and describe the house numbering. Quite often this data will be blank and so you will be providing a useful service to complete it.

Navteq classifies roads in their database as Class 1, 2, 3, 4. This corresponds to A, B, C, D roads. In the UK, only A and B are officially designated on signage although Highways Department will refer internally to C and D and Unclassified roads too.

If you click 'something else' you can add advice about road width restrictions or errors on the map that are not reportable elsewhere.

You can also attach photos of any errors or issues.

You can only report geographic information that can reasonably be reflected in a digital map. Therefore it is probably not much use to report “this road has a problem with speeding…” while reporting “the road is only eight feet wide at this point…” is more useful to the digital mapmakers.

Some GPS devices use data from another company Tele Atlas. You can enter less geographic information on their website but this database is more detailed in POI categories.

To research or record local features, or if you want to use maps without paying a hefty copyright fee, you can contribute to the OSM, a global ‘wiki’ map where you can record features of interest.

The UK Ordnance Survey gets its POI data from a company called Point X which the OS owns in partnership with Landmark Information Group. Point X doesn't indicate on its website how to correct or submit data but we have asked them and when they tell us we'll post it here. Landmark claims to be an unrivaled source of large scale current and historic digital maps together with high quality environmental risk and planning information.

PointX is a joint venture company established to provide the most comprehensive range of points of interest data in Great Britain. They have over 600 classifications ranging from airports to amusement parks, hospitals to hotels, petrol stations to pubs and restaurants to railway stations. Customers for this data are central government, the emergency services, local authorities and companies developing location-based services.

Point X says it has over 170 data suppliers including Market Locations (who replaced Thomson Directories), Department for Transport, Transport for London, Police, Fire and Ambulance Authorities, Education Authorities, Royal Mail, Visit Britain, LINK Interchange Network, The Court Service, UK Payphone Directory, Little Chef, National Trust for Scotland and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

The Point X POI data is used for drawing the Traveline journey maps, in local government 'health checks' and by location pointing services such as finding your nearest swimming pool or ATM. It seems there has been some significant wrangling over merging this data with the 29 million entries of the seperate Postal Address File maintained by the Royal Mail, so these are not combined as yet though the postcode boundaries have been released to the Ordnance Survey.

I wonder how many POI errors that people familiar with Halesworth, Suffolk can find on this map Traveline served on 31/3/13. The public convenience #4 has been closed for a decade, public convenience #2 is non existent, but if it means those that were at the swimming pool, they were demolished in September 2010.

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