Problems with Madeline Island Maps on the Web
Three years ago, while we were updating our website, we discovered something on Bing and Open Street maps (Open Street maps are used by MapQuest and have been used in the past by Snapchat and Foursquare). The problem was that Madeline Island was depicted on those maps as being totally underwater:
[Before the OpenStreet Map Correction - Madeline Island Appears Submerged]
As you can see above, the Bayfield mainland is pictured in white, against the blue background of Lake Superior. But Madeline Island appears completely submerged. Some roads are visible (in white) and a few landmarks (like the airport) are shown, but the outline of the Island's shoreline is invisible, making Madeline Island look as if it is underwater. Some examples of the many problems with this map:
- On the above map, the Madeline Island Airport runway ends at the water's edge.
- Much of Nebraska Row, Sunnyslope Road and Grant's Point is totally missing.
- The Hagen Road area and the State Park are completely absent from the map.
We made a complaint to Open Street/Map Quest and after a number of apologies, the problem was solved within 48 hours. However, this is an example of what can happen when nobody is regularly reviewing onlne resources like area maps.
We did get a clue that this might be a problem as early as 2013, when a client visited our office at 809 Main Street, in downtown LaPointe. The client accidentally locked his keys inside his new Ford Expedition. He came into our office and explained what had happened, then breathed a sigh of relief and said "fortunately, we have OnStar Navigation in our car". He borrowed an office phone and placed a toll-free call to OnStar.
He was promptly connected to call center personnel and requested that they unlock his vehicle. There was silence on the line for about two minutes. Then the young lady at OnStar inquired "Where exactly are you?"
She went on to inform him that OnStar Navigation Service showed his car to be submerged in Lake Superior, a couple of miles from Bayfield, Wisconsin. Her screen did not show Madeline Island at all. This was most likely as a result of OnStar using the inaccurate OpenStreet map for zip code 54850.
[After the OpenStreet Map for Zip Code 54850 was corrected, Madeline Island reappears on map]
A word to the wise is in order. Someone should be checking our Madeline Island maps for errors regularly. This is a significant tourism issue, and errors like this one can cost local merchants business.
Since our Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce deals with promoting tourism, it might be a good idea for members of the local business community to routinely review various online maps (Google, Bing, Yahoo and so forth) to make sure data is correctly and accurately displayed to the public.