Where am I? Introducing the Satnav Blackspot Widget

In the past I’ve talked about use of GPS data (for example by Google street view). I’ve also mentioned Augmented Reality (AR) and helped edit the Augmented Reality for Smartphones report in May last year, authored by Ben Butchart, Edina for the JISC Observatory. However sat nav isn’t one of my favourite technologies. Nonetheless things are moving on in this area and interesting work is being done collating user information on sta nav black spots.

Many of us will have been sent down the wrong road by our car’s satellite navigation system. I once ended up down a small windy lane grounded on a pile of rubble and ice on the way back from Bristol airport in a blizzard – not good! While satellite technology ensures that signal failure is almost always a brief annoyance rather than a recurring issue, not every satnav map is one hundred per cent accurate, and can offer some dangerously misleading information. This is where car insurance comparison site Confused.com have created a useful widget to identify the common and most dangerous sat nav blackspots in the UK.

The widget is compiled solely from user contributions; the hope is that gathering enough information in one place will provide a useful resource for drivers using satnav technology across the country. If you’ve found yourself directed down a one-way street or pedestrian-only area, or even to a road that no longer exists, this is a good place to share that information with other motorists.

Anecdotal examples of these malfunctions are widespread, and potentially damaging to both roads and road users – the Dutch Quarter in Colchester is regularly jammed with lorries attempting to navigate the narrow streets after being directed there by their sat nav. Edward Randell, from Swindon, has to constantly give directions to confused drivers who are directed down his dead end street.

While some errors can be irritating, like the examples above, others can be downright dangerous. In 2009, a man nearly drove over a cliff edge after blindly following instructions from his Sat Nav. Anything that can help alert people to these blackspots has got to be a good thing.

Confused.com are looking for information like this to populate the map and give a decent amount of coverage across the country, and hopefully prevent further accidents in future.