Real-world data to sharpen map searches

Nov. 7, 2012 at 4:15 PM
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LONDON, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- British software developers say satellite data, road and transport timetables are helping to make Internet travel-time searches more accurate.

While most search engines determine travel time based on straight-line, "as the crow flies" distances, that can yield unrealistic estimates of how long a journey will take, they say.

Two British mapping firms say they're attempting to improve searches by basing estimates on transport timetables, road data and more accurate maps, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Mapping services iGeolise and Mapumental say they are working to produce real-world results that are more relevant.

"About 40 percent of all web searches are for geographic information," iGeolise founder Charlie Davies said.

Important factors such as the position of bus stops and stations, the frequency of trains and buses and key details of British roads should be taken into account, he said.

Combining such data with average walking speeds and driving speeds can yield results that are more accurate, he said.

While relevant data is available from many public authorities and agencies, its not always easy to make use of it, the developers said.

"The data that is put out has often not been collected without much or any thought that it would be used by third parties," Tom Steinberg of Mapumental said. "Typically this leads to the data containing ambiguities or apparently internal contradictions that take a lot of time to clean up."

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