Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Australia Iphone Apple

Australian Police Warn That Apple Maps Could Get Someone Killed 452

Posted by samzenpus
from the path-less-traveled dept.
First time accepted submitter jsherring writes "Police in Victoria, Australia warn that Apple's glitch-filled Maps app could get someone killed, after motorists looking for the Victorian city of Mildura were instead guided to a wilderness area. Relying on Apple Maps to navigate through rural Australia seems rather foolish but it has become common practice to rely on GPS navigation. Besides reverting to google maps, perhaps Apple should provide strong warnings to use other navigation sources if navigating to remote locations."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Australian Police Warn That Apple Maps Could Get Someone Killed

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:5, Informative)

    by kactusotp (2709311) on Monday December 10, 2012 @05:09AM (#42240429)
    You obviously haven't driven in Australia much.. Google maps [google.com] See how you are driving through national parks and farmland before getting back to an urban area? Well Apple maps just takes you through a different national park and dumps you there. 45C is also 113F. And there is no phone reception or water. And people have already been stuck for 24 hours [guardian.co.uk]
  • by xaxa (988988) on Monday December 10, 2012 @05:17AM (#42240469)

    Wasn't Apple using Open Street Maps?

    The article notes that Apple used various data sources, but explains that there's no reason to think the data sources are at fault here.

    Open Street Map correctly locates Mildura: http://osm.org/go/uHcWMmj-?m [osm.org]

  • Re:Darwin awards (Score:4, Informative)

    by DeathToBill (601486) on Monday December 10, 2012 @05:18AM (#42240473) Journal

    Mildura is in the middle of a wilderness area. Not as remote as you can get, but well on the way out there. And Apple maps shows the city in the wrong place.

    Care to spread some more dangerous ignorance around, fanboi?

  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Monday December 10, 2012 @05:26AM (#42240501) Journal

    Before there is too much stupidity, if you've never been to Australia, please realise:

    1. It's huge. Really huge. I live in one out of two of the closer-together cities in Australia, and they're about 800kms apart. In the other direction, the next major city is 2,500kms away.

    2. It's mostly empty (in terms of civilization). Think of driving through rural Utah or Arizona, which are quite similar to the Australian bush.

    3. It's mostly flat and full of similar looking landscape.

    4. National parks and non-national park areas often look quite similar.

    5. There's usually only one or two ways to get around in the country.

    6. Mildura is a small town in the middle of bloody nowhere. If I was driving there from here I'd expect to pass through a handful of tiny settlements on the way.

    So if you are relying on your GPS to get you somewhere outside a major city, it's actually quite plausible and reasonable that you might not have much idea that you're being led off in the wrong direction until you (don't) get there.

    It's also quite plausible that you can die - it has happened before. People get lost, they run out of fuel, they don't have water, the temperature easily gets up into the 40-50C range and - dead.

  • Re:Darwin awards (Score:5, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday December 10, 2012 @05:32AM (#42240535) Homepage Journal

    If you are trying to get to a residential area, and instead take a dirt road into a wilderness area, while blindly following your GPS, and you get eaten by a crocodile, you deserve the Darwin award you're about to get.

    The problem is that in Australia you sometimes do have to take dirt roads through wildnerness areas to get to residential areas. Sometimes for hundreds of kilometres.

  • by ColaMan (37550) on Monday December 10, 2012 @06:02AM (#42240657) Homepage Journal

    . But isn't it silly to drive these distances through the wilderness

    You're not quite getting it. It's not 'wilderness' as such, it's 'ordinary' distances in 'ordinary' rural Australia. 500km gets me half the way across Queensland and I've done double that (driving 900km from Mt Isa to Townsville) on a regular basis without any concern.

    Concerns are limited because:
    - You usually go about 100-150 kilometers before the next fuel stop.
    - Roads have a reasonable amount of traffic (30-100 vehicles an hour).
    - Towns are normally where the GPS tells you they are.

    And that's the problem, because if the map you've got is a little vague and that town isn't there, then the rough "I can make it there with 1/4 tank to spare" calculation doesn't get you back that 100km to the previous town where you should have filled up and it doesn't get you to the next town either.

  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:5, Informative)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Monday December 10, 2012 @06:02AM (#42240661) Journal

    Personally I haven't driven in Australia at all - I've only been there once. However, even as an ignorant Pom I'd assume that, when venturing outside of a city, its the sort of place where you take carrying water and emergency gear, keeping your car maintained, carrying reputable maps and planning your journey carefully rather seriously.

    I live in Australia, and have lived and worked in the inland Pilbara and Kimberley regions, which are genuinely isolated. Where I'd certainly take precautions,including establishing sched calls and packing an EPIRB if I was going really remote. I'd also take a GPS I trusted.

    If I was driving town-to-town in country Victoria, not so much. Anywhere in Australia can be dangerous if you get stranded, because it's hot and dry. But with modern cars, regular traffic and mobile connections in most areas, you can pretty much hop in the car and go.

    That's if your GPS doesn't guide you away from all of those modern safety advantages. Which the iPhone does. Which is why the Mildura police are saying "don't use iPhone maps." Which is why they're not issuing warnings an\bout GPSs in general, just the Apple product.

  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:5, Informative)

    by AHuxley (892839) on Monday December 10, 2012 @06:15AM (#42240707) Homepage Journal
    Re weapons If your a farmer or aiming for a sporting event, you may apply for a permit. At best you will get some low ammo count semi-automatic unit.
    As for the dangers of Australia - roads can be long and once committed past the 1/2 tank point your lost. Its not a road network i.e. no 'farms', no park rangers, no gas stations, no cafes near UFO hot spots, trendy communities of cabins just over the hill. Just an endless road and a slow death if you make a mistake. Telco networks are good in the city, in rural towns and some roads. Beyond that its sat phone or beacon.
    As for why Australia is so hard for Apple to 'buy' a gps map system for is just strange.
  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday December 10, 2012 @06:20AM (#42240735)

    Parent poster here. Just thought I should also add that this is unique to Apple Maps. Google Maps in my experience is flawless across Australia. As is my stand-alone Garmin GPS.

  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:5, Informative)

    by kactusotp (2709311) on Monday December 10, 2012 @06:34AM (#42240793)
    I live in Perth (the capital of Western Australia not the UK one) I'm 20 minutes drive from the city centre, 15 minutes drive to wonderful beaches, and 10 minutes drives in several directions to bushland remote enough that if I had a heart attack while walking they would never find the body. Australia is a big empty place, your biggest dangers (apart from hitting a roo, or dozing off and driving into oncoming road trains (single lane 110kmph YAY)) is not making it to the next petrol station. Its ok in urban areas, but as soon as you leave metro... better make sure you know your fuel efficiency. But if you do stray off a main road, even by accident, its not like there is any space to turn around. Up in shark bay we pulled off onto a beach carpark and went down a sudden incline over the shells. No way to turn back and the only way was forward and hope the loop put you back somewhere else. Long story short sedan started to bottom out so we lost our nerve and tried to turn around. Big mistake, soon as we left the compressed trail we sank to the chassis at all 4 wheels. No reception, had hike through the bush back to the main road to hail a tourist bus to get the townsite to send out a truck to pull us out.
  • It's also quite plausible that you can die - it has happened before. People get lost, they run out of fuel, they don't have water, the temperature easily gets up into the 40-50C range and - dead.

    This happened only last month [abc.net.au] when two guys working on a station got their 4WD bogged 10 miles from the homestead and tried to walk back under the hot sun. One of them died from heat and dehydration.

  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki @ g m a i l . com> on Monday December 10, 2012 @06:41AM (#42240815) Homepage

    You obviously haven't driven in Australia much..

    Not really different for Canada, every year we get hundreds of people who are sent off into logging roads, or CO-Access roads. Basically no maintenance at all, and not traveled by anything but snowmobiles in the winter. Where there is no phone service, no water except from the snow, and no food for a few hundred KM or more. And on some days it'll hit a frosty -30C. This has happened all over the place here in Canada, and the police have put out numerous warnings to not trust your GPS at all. While Australia has 45C temperatures, you can survive that for a few days, if you're lucky. Here when it hits -30C you might have 5-6 hours if you're not dressed for it. Especially if the snowmobile patrols are already out hunting for someone else.

    Then again this has happened quite a bit in the US too. Where people have been dumped in the middle of death valley as a "shortcut" and only by pure luck they didn't die.

  • by alen (225700) on Monday December 10, 2012 @06:55AM (#42240863)

    When I went to a national park here in the USA a few months back I bought navigon for my iPhone

    It has offline maps and worked perfectly with no signal. It was $30 and well worth it
    Its 1.5gb if you want to download every us state

    Not as flashy as apple or google maps but an awesome program for what it does

  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday December 10, 2012 @07:19AM (#42240969)

    Australia is ~99% the area of the lower 48 of the US - i.e. essentially the same size. Very convenient comparison when Americans ask you how big Australia is. Often they seem surprised for some reason though. I suspect it might have something to do with the way Mercator projection exaggerates the areas of places as you get further poleward (the US is significantly further north than Australia is south).

    The US is 'wider' east to west, but Australia is quite a bit 'taller', north to south (especially if you include Tasmania).

  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Architect_sasyr (938685) on Monday December 10, 2012 @07:36AM (#42241045)
    I regularly make the run along the B400 to see the family (regularly - about once every month). I always plug in the GPS, but it's more for watching my speed and that I always turn it on than anything else. Recently decided to let it have its head, figured I could always turn around if necessary - shaved a full half hour off the otherwise 12 hour trip (you know, when there is a blue and white behind you :P) because it took me off the highway.

    I'm not saying your friend was correct - generally I will stick to the highway anyway, but this crap about lots of traffic is pretty rubbish - at 3 in the morning even the B12 is pretty dead, despite it being a main run for trucks doing the Sydney/Albury to Adelaide trip, you could be bleeding out for hours before someone sees you. It's not quite the M31, despite being remote that one you'd be hard pressed to bury a body before someone drove past, but major roads in Australia can still be pretty "cut off" from it all.

    All that said, if you're not at least checking a gregories or your google maps before you go, you're a fucking moron to do anything big out here with no prep and nothing but your phone.
  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2012 @07:37AM (#42241047)

    > Not really different for Canada, every year we get hundreds of people who are sent off into logging roads, or CO-Access roads. Basically no maintenance at all, and not traveled by anything but snowmobiles in the winter. Where there is no phone service, no water except from the snow, and no food for a few hundred KM or more. And on some days it'll hit a frosty -30C. This has happened all over the place here in Canada, and the police have put out numerous warnings to not trust your GPS at all. While Australia has 45C temperatures, you can survive that for a few days, if you're lucky.

    Nothing like this should happen for a drive to Mildura ... Mildura is on a main National Highway, identified as the A20, called the Sturt Highway. It is quite civilized, really, considering it runs through a desert. Follow the signs, you can't miss it. Have a look for yourself:

    http://expressway.paulrands.com/gallery/roads/nsw/numbered/nationalhighways/nh20/02_haytovicborder/images/200712_65_buronga.jpg

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturt_Highway

    Just remember to stick to the highway, drive on the left, follow the A20 signs, ignore Apple Maps, do not carry a gun, do carry water, stay below 100 kmh speed, and always fill up at the first opportunity if the gas in your tank falls below one quarter full. No problemo.

  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:4, Informative)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Monday December 10, 2012 @07:46AM (#42241089)

    Unfortunately, these drives would be like LA to Vegas, or San Francisco to Seattle or Portland in the US. People are so comfortable with hopping on the highway and going, they forget that even 30 years ago the main routes were considered dangerous. In Washington, Oregon, California it is surrounded by impassable Mountians that still get fatal sudden snowfall on pretty marked highways. You still get news somebody died because they got turned around in a storm and got lost.

  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:10AM (#42242321)

    You've completely missed the point.

    The people are not trying to get to 'places which are seldom traveled by others'. They are not 'trying' to go to the outback. They are trying to get to a town called Mildura. Apple Maps is misinterpreting this as the local government area of Mildura by essentially finding the midpoint of a very large region and deciding that's the location they want, which is nowhere near the location of the town of Midura.

    Read that again. They are trying to get to a town. It is NOT seldom traveled. The path that Apple Maps chose for them to drive IS seldom traveled because there's NOTHING THERE!! That's why they got screwed. They had no expectation that they would be so far from civilisation.

    It's as if someone wanted to swim a mile to cross a channel but were somehow tricked into attempting to swim between Australia and New Zealand. And then you come along, with all your wisdom and sagely advice, telling us all how stupid they were for not preparing properly for such a long swim. Thanks for playing.

  • Re:Apple bashing (Score:5, Informative)

    by dohnut (189348) on Monday December 10, 2012 @12:12PM (#42243527)

    Just for clarification:

    EPIRBs are generally used for maritime incidents. They float, can be activated manually but automatically activate when they enter the water.
    PLBs are Personal Locator Beacons. Similar to an EPIRB except they are usually smaller, less expensive, and most do not float.
    ELTs are used for aircraft related incidents.

    They all perform the same function which is to alert rescuers to the location of the beacon. For terrestrial use it is generally recommended (required?) that you use a PLB.

    The system is expensive to maintain since (unless you are abusing the system) the search and rescue usually comes at no cost to the beacon owner. Because of this, you should really only use these devices in situations that may involve the loss of life or limb. Running out of gas on a remote Australian road is not necessarily an emergency. There may be help nearby or other vehicles that may come along within a relatively short time frame. The beacon should only be used if you think that there is a good chance you will end up dead or permanently disabled as a result of your situation.

    Of course, one would hope that if you have the presence of mind to carry a locator beacon that you would also make sure to fill up your gas tank before a long trip into an unfamiliar, remote area.

The sooner all the animals are extinct, the sooner we'll find their money. - Ed Bluestone

Working...