Monday, September 02, 2013

5 Observations from my Google Map Experience in India

On this recent trip (August 2013) to India my use of Google Maps was far more than any previous visits. In a funny quirky way I got into an auto-rickshaw and when I told the driver the destination, he turned to me and asked for directions. Apparently he was a migrant to the city and had not been driving the auto for long. Luckily I ad my smartphone with a local SIM and a data-plan and Google Maps. Subsequently I used Google Maps several times in India and here are my observations.

Local flavor of Google Map directions

  • The turn-by-turn directions are customized for the Indian roads where landmarks rather than road names are the most suitable. For example take a look at these directions from Ameerpet to Zonal Railway Institute in Maula Ali, Hyderabad. This mimics the real life directions you may receive from a passerby and Indian roads are not clearly labeled.
Best route calculation

  • Traffic is very bad during peak hours and Google's directions took me usually on roads with less traffic but I am not that familiar with the regular routes to say for sure that I saved time but it did feel like that.
Road conditions

  • I was a little disappointed by the Google Maps results for the journey from Bangalore to Kannur which gave me a travel time of about 6.5 hours. We made the journey in 12 hours. Even if you discount the fact that we made a lot of stopovers for food and rest room breaks, the roads are bad specially in the mountain sections on the journey and 6 hours is impossible to achieve. Google needs to somehow include the "Ghat" roads into the algorithm and calculate speed based on road conditions

Railroad Crossings
  • The same route from Ameerpet to Maula Ali in Hyderabad had two railroad crossings ( In India they are called "level crossings" which the directions did not tell me and we had to stop at one for a train to pass. I don't think this made a difference to the travel time  but would have loved to have a heads-up

Local Business
  • Google has competition from Just Dial, Ask Laila and others wh send you info on local business by SMS or you can call and ask a live perosn to help you find a business. These directories also come up high when you search for businesses. I did use Google Maps to search for restaurants, Shree Jewelers and a gift shop and was happy with the results. I hope to see more local business added when I visit India next.
have you used Google Maps in India ? What is your view?
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