Restricted access to the Carretería-Álamos area. Madrazo
Google Maps directs drivers straight to fines, with not all of Malaga's restricted zones shown

Google Maps directs drivers straight to fines, with not all of Malaga's restricted zones shown

SUR has taken a spin to find out which restricted areas of the city the navigation tool has not yet identified

Chus Heredia


Friday, 21 June 2024, 14:41

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It is the most popular navigation tool thanks to smartphones and is, above all, easy to use. Google Maps is a location search and route guidance tool that allows you to geolocate points, calculate routes, find nearby points of interest... It's been around for almost 20 years already, but its popularity hasn't waned and it remains useful for everyday life.

However, SUR wanted to check, now that a new restricted traffic zone has been added at the Álamos and Carretería junction, if the app reflects the latest changes in Malaga city. Not only does it not do so, but it doesn't include many of the other areas that have been restricted for years. But what determines whether Google Maps updates this information?

The Carretería experiment

SUR began by asking Google's navigation to take us from the Atarazanas market to the Tejón y Rodríguez car park. Google insistently specified taking Calle Carretería as part of the route. We ignored the advice because we knew it leads to the newly restricted zone. After ignoring the advice, the next right turn recommended is on Calle Postigo de Arance, again forbidden because it leads inexorably back to Carretería.

Other missed restricted zones

We carried out similar experiments in locations such as the Calle Martínez and Puerta del Mar junction and the access from Avenida de Andalucía to the Alameda (only for bus, taxi and authorised vehicles, with the rest needing to go via Alameda de Colón). Even streets that have not had free access for years, such as the turning from Pasillo de Santa Isabel towards Plaza de la Constitución and the turning from behind the Town Hall and the Rectorate towards Pintor Nogales and Císter are not marked as restricted. However, the system does warn that parking in the latter is complicated.

The right turn at the end of Calle Córdoba

However, all the urban speed limits are correctly identified. As is the right turn on Calle Córdoba, the main 'tourist hunting' point in the city of Malaga, according to Ana María García, head of Aesva, the association of rental car service companies.

The blue zone is the second most common reason for fines in the area. However, despite the fact that in the first two months of operation of the Álamos-Carretería junction, the municipal cameras have registered 9,100 offences, they have not yet reached the rental companies. "Sometimes the notices take two or three months to arrive," she explained, while acknowledging that the restricted zones are very well signposted. Indeed, the eye-catching yellow fluorescent signs with a camera drawn on them are quite obvious. That and the fact that driving in city centres when travelling should always put the driver on their guard in view of new rules and regulations.

How does Google Maps work?

The businesswoman added that the city council has been asked to communicate these changes to Google at the tourism forum.

And what does Google have to say about updates? A spokesperson explained: "We use several sources to update the map, including third-party data, information from local authorities, contributions from the Google Maps community, as well as satellite and Street View images. We also offer local governments the opportunity to submit their data to Google Maps through our Maps Content Partners tool."

City Council is working to report on traffic and public transport

Meanwhile, the city council says that their IT professionals are working to report on mobility and EMT (public transportation) data. They add that all the data is online and open. The fact that Google Maps already includes urban buses is due to the initiative of the technology company. In fact, the idea is to report so that these restricted routes are not even offered with a warning, but are directly considered pedestrian.

It is strange, therefore, that with Big Data and the ease of obtaining real-time information, Google Maps does not update such important changes when, for example, information about traffic flow, construction works, and traffic jams is immediate.

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