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When Tech Goes Wrong: Misadventures with Google Maps


When Tech Goes Wrong: Misadventures with Google Maps

I should start this off by saying, asides Google’s traditional search, I consider Google maps to be Google’s coolest service in Google’s ever expanding catalogue of services. That said, a few days ago, I learnt the hard way why you can’t always trust Google Maps (and tech generally).

Two days ago I had to make an impromptu trip to the historic city of Zaria on some business. At some point during the day, I got a pocket of free time–about an hour or so which I decided to use to complete some bank runs which I had planned to do that day before the trip came up. Now, I have been to Zaria countless times (okay, maybe not countless, but you get my drift), but for some weird reason, all my dealings usually revolve around the university and the teaching hospital which are on one side of town; accessible without having to go into the heart of the city so that’s the part of town I’m familiar with.

My first stop was Union bank, which is just around the university, so that bit was straightforward, next was GTBank and that’s where the troubles started. (Now that I think about it, there’s a branch within the campus but I’m not sure if it’s a full fledged bank or just a cash-point which wouldn’t have been able to handle what I needed done, besides with students mostly at home, I’m not sure they would have been open).


According to GTBank’s branch locator, the sole branch in Zaria is located on Manchester road (I kid you not). I couldn’t find a Manchester road on Google maps, but I could find a GTBank so in my infinite wisdom, I decided the road must have been renamed and I turned on the navigation and went off. To cut the long story short, after driving around for about an hour and a half of burning gasoline while stubbornly refusing to ask for directions or at least get a “bike man” to lead the way, I ended up on the express way back home at which point I decided to just wait till I’m back home. At loads of points, the navigating voice ask me to take turns on clearly non-existent roads, sometimes asking me to go left into somebody’s gate and then right into another person’s gate after “recalculating” my route because I missed the turn (into the first gate).

To add insult to injury, when I checked the branch locator on the computer after getting home, I realized that I had driven a few metres by the bank at a point where the navigation was urging me to drive straight for 1.5 kilometres.

It’s holiday season, so I’m pretty sure many would be on the road going back to the “village” for the festivities, so quick advice, when in doubt, use Google maps and at least ask someone especially in the smaller cities and towns to be sure you’re on the right path (except you are in Lagos, then by all means use only Google maps, I’ll write a whole new story on this someday).

Lastly to Google (yes, I know you are reading this), tell someone, to tell someone…to fix up!)

Edit: Just wanted to add that over the weekend, I was in Ilorin (Kwara State) for a friend’s wedding, and I and my friends relied on Google Maps solely to get around. It was so accurate, even through side roads that at many times, we turned down offers to have people guide us around. Like I mentioned in the main post, it seems like the larger cities and state capitals are quite accurate.

...half genius, half unserious.

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