Google Maps Time Warp

Ben Wear’s transportation column in the Statesman this weekend pointed out something that’s been annoying me for at least a year: Google’s map data for Austin is sorely outdated.

I realize that it takes some time to get updated satellite images and that they can’t possibly keep every location on earth up-to-date, but it’s been more than 3 years since they’ve updated the downtown satellite imagery. How do I know? Take a look at the Frost Bank Tower at the corner of 4th and Congress. It was completed by January of 2004 and construction began in November of 2001. In the Google Maps image, it’s clear that the top of the tower hasn’t been completed. This data is probably from 2003.

I guess that’s one benefit to a rapidly changing landscape due to new condo and building development. It’s easy to date satellite images.

4 Comments so far

  1. James (unregistered) on May 29th, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

    I’ve been waiting for these to show up too, and just today I looked at Google maps and found that SH-130 from SH-290 north to I-35 is now shown.

  2. Spencer (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 12:02 am

    I noticed that 130 was on there today too. Maybe Wear’s column spurred some action. But what about 45? It was opened at the same time as 130 (at least the portion near I-35).

    I would guess that Google’s satellite imagery was taken in January 2003 based on what appears to be lots of inauguration equipment strewn across the south lawn of the Capitol. If you want more recent images (2006), you can obtain them from the City’s GIS department. I would assume that the 2006 photos will be provided to Google after the next round of photos are flown in a couple of years.

  3. Matthew (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 8:35 am

    It’s not just Google with the outdated maps, unfortunately. Microsoft Streets and Trips has maps of Austin that are just as outdated.

    I don’t know what third-party service Microsoft is purchasing their map data from, but it sucks.

  4. Tom (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 11:47 am

    Capital Metro stops (and upcoming departures) now appear on Google Maps! Check it out:

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