MapQuest's new error-reporting tool for "neighborhood watch" not quite error-free
MapQuest, the AOL-owned online mapping service with strong Denver ties, has unveiled a new site that's supposed to encourage users to contribute data and correct errors in its maps -- a kind of cartographic Wikipedia, or what MQ is calling a "neighborhood watch" concept. It's a great idea -- if the company ever gets past the balkiness of the open site's beta phase.
In the battle to dominate on-the-go personal navigation, MapQuest has faced some stiff competition from Google and other heavyweights -- and attracted a horde of haters who bitch about wrong-way directions, clunky interfaces and other problems. Their data could badly use some user input about neighborhood attractions, closed roads, construction delays, hidden hazards and so on.
But a visit to Open MapQuest left me more lost than found. I thought I'd start with the address of our office, 969 Broadway in Denver, and see what features might be missing in the surrounding area. But I couldn't get there no matter how I tried. Address, city and zip just gave me random segments of Broadway. And some of the options weren't even Denver's Broadway.
I soon found myself on Broadway in Keenesburg -- a strip about seven blocks long, miles from just about anywhere except the Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Denver Outlaws / Major League Lacrosse All Star Game
TicketsSat., Dec. 29, 6:00pm
I'm not quite sure what happened next. The zoom feature went postal, I suspect. In any case, I was soon on something called Ponderosa Drive. In Colorado, I think, but so far from anywhere that no amount of adjustment could divine my exact location -- beyond a general marker somewhere between Nevada and Missouri.
MapQuest hopes to make the open site a "hyper-local initiative" that will allow consumers to "easily add content and details that make the map more specific and useful," with "easy-to-use tools that are seamlessly integrated." The company already has dedicated open sites in ten countries and a growing base in the United States.
But after fooling around with the not-so-easy-to-use tools for thirty minutes or so, I was ready to break out the Rand McNally.
More from our Business archive: "Auntie Anne operator cries foul over Denver International Airport's plan for concessionaires."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.