Maps are such a useful and necessary tool that We have been mapping the planet for more than 2,000 years. For many emperors and kings, a well-mapped world was the difference between ruling well or poorly.
Know where a country ends, where the border of that continent begins and if the nearest sea has an outlet to the ocean. The maps they give us context of the world that surrounds us in a very practical way: in two dimensions and reducing the environment to the size of a page. Sometimes less.
Google Maps application geolocation The most used map in the world deceives us every time we use it, just like traditional maps do. My goal today is for you to find out how these deceive us.
We start with traditional maps, as they have been fooling us for centuries… for our own good. And then we go to google mapsan app that is not as reliable as they have tried to sell us for a decade.
How maps and Google Maps fool us
Map projections, the big lie
Be careful, because this first point will make your head explode: The world is not how it is represented by that big map that you had in your Environmental Knowledge class at school. Countries do not have that shape and all cartographers are aware of that lie. And the fault lies with the cartographic projections.
Map projection is the term used to describe a broad set of transformations used to represent the two-dimensional curved surface of a globe in a plane.
In a map projection, the coordinates, often expressed as latitude and longitude, of places on the surface of the globe are transformed into coordinates on a plane. Therefore, projection is a necessary step to create a two-dimensional map. and is one of the essential elements of cartography.
All projections of a sphere onto a plane necessarily distort the surface in some way. Depending on the purpose of the map, some distortions are acceptable and others are not; therefore, different map projections exist to preserve some properties of the spherical body at the expense of other properties.
As you can see on the map that I have left you above, the Earth plane is really different from the one you have studied all your life. It’s okay, you’ll get used to this once you understand that map projection was necessary.
Big Google Maps errors
Many times we trust what Google Maps tells us., without taking into account that the application tends to crash much more than Google would like to admit. There are dozens of news that we have read where people end up in a lake because of following directions.
On this website they compile the 25 failures best-known of the app in recent years, and the reality is that there are many travelers who have not ended well because of a malfunction of the Google application. A woman was even shot once when she visited a monument in Brazil that didn’t turn out to be the place she thought it was.
In my case, I can assure you that Google Maps usually gets messy on long journeys. For example, on the way to my parents’ house, Google Maps has begun to indicate that at km 60 of the A-30 we must make a 180º turn to reach my destination. If I listened to him, I would have to change direction in the middle of a freeway, jumping over a guard rail.
Another time, for not having registered the diversion that the construction company had placed, he made me enter a private and closed area of the Segura Hydrographic Confederation. For Google Maps that road is fine, the reality is that it was a private area and I earned the anger of the security agent.
A not so reliable traffic prediction system
Google Maps has improved a lot in recent years, incorporating features that make life easier for its users. One of them is the option of knowing how the traffic is and where there is a traffic jam through Google Maps.
It may seem like witchcraft, but it is not. So how does Google know how fast cars are going on a highway, if there is heavy traffic and even if there is a traffic jam? The answer is probably what you are imagining: Big Data.
Google is well known for collecting data about its users, including their real-time location. It does it even when you have not activated this option, although this constant Big Brother must have some utility.
But this way of collecting data in real time has its pitfalls, as demonstrated by a man who filled a cart with mobile phones with his SIM cards and 4G coverage to make Google Maps believe that the street was covered in enormous traffic. The reality is that there was nobody, only him.
This method is quite reliable, we cannot deny it, but it also gives rise to misinterpretations at certain times.. For example, when there is a demonstration of people on a street and your app starts telling you that the traffic in the area is packed… when there is not a single car. Do not trust Google Maps always, nor the representations of the maps.