Trap street or typo?
Let’s play… Trap street or typo!
13 APRIL 2021 UPDATE – SEE BELOW
On one of my recent extended runs into the City of London and back, I went along the Strand. I spotted a few things that bore closer inspection via maps, Street View and Wikipedia when I got home. In the process of looking around one particular area, I noticed a tiny alleyway running roughly NW/SE between Maiden Lane and the Strand called Lumley Court. Or possibly… Lupley Court.
For whatever reason, I was using a combination of Google Maps and Bing Maps to do my post-run nerdery. And I quickly realised that Google calls this alley Lumley Court, while Bing Maps calls it Lupley Court. As I didn’t know either way who was correct – only that one must be wrong! – I used Google’s Street View to have a closer look and…
Sure enough, the (slightly obscured) sign says Lumley (at both ends, too), so Lumley must be right. (Incidentally, I did also check OpenStreetMap, which also calls it Lumley Court, so that helped as well.)
Looks like it’s one of those narrow alleys that people go and wedge themselves into for a photo:
Ironically, Bing Maps also offers some form of Street View of their own, but for this particular location the quality is… basically unusable – certainly for this purpose:
You can… kind of tell there’s a street there?
Fans of Google Maps are probably aware that it is relatively straightforward to suggest edits to their Maps data. This can take the form of opening hours of businesses, incorrect locations, or changes to names, and other text-related information.
Once you start submitting these corrections with any regularity, you build up a bit of karma with Google Maps, and your edits go from being a) accepted at all, to b) being reflected on the map within days, to c) the edit being made… instantly.
And boy, the first time you make an edit to Google Maps and it appears instantly? Whew, that’s a power trip, I can tell you.
I never quite got into editing OpenStreetMap, and although ethically I guess giving free labour to Google is a bit iffy, it just feels like a helpful thing to do given how many people rely on it.
So, knowing that I have no such karma with Bing Maps, but also knowing their map data is incorrect, I submitted an edit via their feedback option. I know nothing about how they handle this feedback, and I didn’t expect much to happen as a newcomer to their service. But I wanted to try, and see what the process might be like compared to Google, so I submitted the feedback.
That was almost a month ago. After a fortnight I submitted it again, and set myself a reminder to check a week later. Seeing no change, I submitted it again, and then checked another week later. To date, the edit hasn’t been made.
This tells me one or two things. First, perhaps Bing Maps simply doesn’t have the staff to deal with such relatively minor edits in a timely fashion. And perhaps the situation is worse during these times. And, in fairness, I don’t know how long an edit might take when made by someone new to Google Maps, if it gets made at all.
Or… Maybe it’s a trap street*? Maybe? It seems unlikely. But it’s a fun thought. And it’s such a tiny little minor difference to tuck into a very busy area that it feels like it could be…
I’ll try and update this page if the change ever gets made.
* In short, a so-called trap street is a deliberate typo or extra bit of data shown on a map so that the publisher can tell if someone else has copied their maps. If the fake object turns up on someone else’s map, they must have copied it. It’s kind of like a watermark.
One final point: those Street View images of the Strand, taken in July 2019, and showing so many bodies all smooshed up against each other give my post-pandemic brain the heebie jeebies. Yikes.
But, taking the edge off that anxiety is the realisation that these are no ordinary car-shot Street View images. These were shot by a backpack-mounted Street View camera. And, of course, with all those lovely shiny shop windows to utilise, I couldn’t help but try and find our photographer:
Hi, Street View photographer!
13 APRIL 2021 UPDATE
They fixed it! Some time in the past fortnight or since I last checked, they’ve fixed it.
I guess that settles it, then: not trap street, but typo. Case closed.