Bad Google Map fixed after B.C. rancher tells of tourists showing up at his door
'My daughter emailed me and said 'Hey can you fix this?' and I said I might be able to'
Editor's note: After a correction is made, it can take some time for it to show up on all platforms and devices. Google is aware of the issue and is working on it."
When people in the digital mapping world learned the plight of Pete and Maggie Stoner, stuck with hundreds of strangers showing up at their private ranch because of a bad Google Map, it took only a few hours and three "edits" to fix the problem. Then Google staff jumped in and made sure it stayed fixed.
I was like, 'Oh! Poor guy!- Alex Duffield, regional reviewer for Google Maps
The bad map had plagued Stoner since 2012 and complaints to Google Maps went nowhere.
When people in the crowd-sourced Google Maps world learned, they leapt to edit the map within hours of CBC's interview with the frustrated Red Rock rancher.
"My daughter emailed me and said 'Hey can you fix this?' and I said I might be able to," said Alex Duffield a Google Maps regional reviewer who works at incontrolsolutions in Kelowna B.C.
"I was like 'Oh! The poor guy!" said Duffield.
He made one edit, marking the Stoners' driveway private and then approved two other edits to fix the map.
"That seemed to get the job done," said Duffield.
The blue line on the Google Map to Fort George Canyon Provincial Park no longer takes strangers and tourists to a private ranch instead of the trailhead of the park, says Google.
"The correction is live," wrote Nicole Bell of Google.
There were a few glitches, with the map reverting back as new changes were added yesterday by people eager to help.
"I wanted to update you that the issue in Google Maps regarding access to the trailhead for Fort George Canyon Provincial Park that was routing through private property has been fixed." Bell wrote in an email today.
"Overall, this provides a very comprehensive and up-to-date map of Canada, but we recognize that there may be occasional inaccuracies that could arise... We encourage users to let us know when something is incorrect by using our "Report a Problem" tool, found at the bottom right corner of the map," she added.
Maggie Stoner said she was thrilled, and her husband would be ecstatic.
"It's wonderful!" she said.
The Stoners were tired of large groups showing up ready to hike, not realizing they had two hours ahead of them to backtrack to Prince George and find the trail head they were looking for.
"We had to put up a gate and do our utmost to keep it closed to try to discourage people to come down," said Maggie.
"I couldn't find a way to correct it, but I put comments in," she added.
Google Maps fixes
CBC got several calls and emails promising help after people heard the Stoners' story.
"I have some contacts in Google, whom I have pinged already," said Will Cadell, CEO of Sparkgeo in Prince George B.C.
The Google Maps community is crowd-sourced, drawing on local knowledge of people who go to the map and make suggested edits. Then an approved reviewer goes over those edits and verifies them and makes them so.
He said the Google community is very open and helpful, and anybody can pitch in. Google Maps is all based on local knowledge. For example anybody can go in and mark a business closed or a road change, which is later checked and approved if it's correct.
"It's actually not that hard," said Duffield, who earned the right to approve edits in Map Maker after years of suggesting his own edits and earning a certain status for his work.
"I went in there and I was like that's the only way to get to that park, even from the other side of the river there isn't any way to really get into that park," he said. "It's an odd circumstance."
So a trail was added and marked in and that was enough to get directions and see a more sensible path to the trail head. After that was done, Google's algorithm was able to see the path and make it closer.
The Old map
They were going into our property and it didn't matter what I said.- Pete Stoner
Before the fix, the popular online mapping system directed visitors along Highway 97 south of Prince George B.C. to a trailhead for Fort George Canyon Provincial Park. The problem was they ended up on private property with a river and a cliff between them and their desired destination — even if they did cut through the Stoner's field and climb a rock wall.
"They would have a hundred foot rock wall, and if they kept going they'd be in the river," said Pete Stoner.
He ended up dealing with carloads of people lured by the promise of hiking trails along the Fraser River, where old sternwheeler boats used to run.
Instead, they were left staring at a no trespassing sign — and facing another two-hour journey, if they really wanted to get to the park.
With files from Andrew Kurjata
To hear the full story check out the audio labelled: Google Maps glitch