When Good Databases Go Bad

I’m in Boston right now and had a meeting with Skyhook Wireless this morning. When I left my hotel I checked Google Maps and Live Search, both showed the same incorrect address and phone number. The phone number was a fax line (also on Goog411) and the address was the old location. The company had moved three months ago.

The website associated with the listing was the company’s Loki site, which didn’t have the corporate address. Email was the thing that saved me after I had gone up the suite where I thought Skyhook would be, only to find an empty floor.

In a very direct way this illustrates the problem with bad or outdated data. Admittedly the address data were only three months out of date, but the bad phone number is pretty “lame,” as they say in the vernacular.

As we become more dependent on mobile maps the risk of this kind of problem becomes greater.

Another, related issue occurred when I walked with some other folks on Monday night (Memorial Day) from restaurant to restaurant trying to find one that was open in the North End. It would’ve been helpful to have some sort of indication of whether these places were open on my mobile device (of course this would be very difficult to accomplish because it was an isolated holiday).

Finally, I’d like to suggest some sort of display of travel time on foot vs. in the car on these mobile mapping applications so I can make a decision about whether I want to spend 12 or 15 bucks on a cab or walk when it’s a nice day I can still make the appointment time — notwithstanding the bad address information 🙂


Ted Morgan and Jed Rice of Skyhook fed me their “famous” Belgian waffles when I got there (actually very good). They told me a whole story about the significance of the waffles, prompting me to suggest that the corporate logo should be changed to a waffle.


4 Responses to “When Good Databases Go Bad”

  1. joe Says:

    So now I’ve been late for a funeral, church and an L.A. Kings hockey game all owing to incorrect Google maps. (Since when did east become west, north become south and 20 minutes become 90?)

  2. Ken Clark Says:

    perhaps you should have consulted that printed Yellow Pages in your hotel room BEFORE you left to get the correct info….

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    Touche. However the phone book would not have been correct because the move was w/in the last 3 months and unless the publication had just come out it would not have reflected the new address.

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