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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Charities warn of fatal flaws in Google maps mountain routes

This news post is over 1 year old

Google says it is looking into the problem

Scottish mountaineering charities have warned that Google maps is fatally flawed and hillwalkers shouldn’t use the source for co-ordinates.

The trust says searches for routes up Ben Nevis on Google Maps directed users to the car park nearest the summit as the crow flies, and then indicated a walking route that was “highly dangerous, even for experienced climbers”.   

Nathan Berrie, Nevis conservation officer for the trust, said: “The problem is that Google Maps directs some visitors to the Upper Falls car park, presumably because it is the closest car park to the summit.

“But this is not the correct route and we often come across groups of inexperienced walkers heading towards Steall Falls or up the south slopes of Ben Nevis believing it is the route to the summit.”

Heather Morning, safety adviser for Mountaineering Scotland, said: “For those new to hillwalking, it would seem perfectly logical to check out Google Maps for information on how to get to your chosen mountain.

“But when you input Ben Nevis and click on the ‘car’ icon, up pops a map of your route, taking you to the car park at the head of Glen Nevis, followed by a dotted line appearing to show a route to the summit.

“Even the most experienced mountaineer would have difficulty following this route. The line goes through very steep, rocky, and pathless terrain where even in good visibility it would be challenging to find a safe line. Add in low cloud and rain and the suggested Google line is potentially fatal.”

Google also directed users into “life-threatening terrain” for other Munros:  Teallach in the north-west Highlands shows a walking route that would take people over a cliff.

A Google spokeswoman said: “We built Google Maps with safety and reliability in mind, and are working quickly to investigate the routing issue on Ben Nevis.

“In addition to using authoritative data and high definition imagery to update the map, we encourage local organisations to provide geographic information about roads and routes through our Geo Data Upload tool.”



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over 1 year ago

"we encourage local organisations to provide geographic information about roads and routes through our Geo Data Upload tool." says Google - surely it is Google's responsibilty to ensure that the information they give is safe - NOT for organisations to try and monitor the garbage that Google puts out