Zachary Salman has an unusual hobby for a sixteen year old.
The honor student from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia – a tourist town with a population of 700 – loves maps. So much so that about a year ago, he started to notice that the maps of his town, both online and in navigation devices, were wildly incorrect.
“The maps were way out of date. Road names and even some roads were missing, and businesses were really out of place, like 20 miles off,” Zachary says.
These may not be the words every mapmaker wants to hear, but HERE has been fortunate to tap into people like Zachary as a line of defense against an ever changing world.
It’s a simple enough concept. Maps must be constantly updated. Road names change and new roads are built every day.
Unlike other map providers, however, HERE maps must be automotive grade. That means we can’t afford mistakes and we can’t allow just anyone to edit our maps. Instead, our field managers have cultivated a list of trusted map fans – people like Zachary and Jason Wilcox -- to help us keep our map fresher than the competition.
When Jason Wilcox first tapped the maps icon on his Windows Phone some five years ago, the first thing he noticed was how out of the date the information about his hometown in Utah. Some of the roads were misnamed or missing altogether, while other information about the neighborhood was 30 years out of date.
“It was pretty bad,” Mr. Wilcox, 31, says.
Jason first went to www.here.com and reported the changes. He also commented here on the blog.
Soon thereafter, Rob Blumenthal, one of our field managers at HERE, took notice, and gave Jason the keys to edit our maps. In one year, Jason has already logged over 11,000 changes.
He’s corrected road names, and pointed out new shopping centers, but most of his time has been spent on new construction. There’s so much new construction going on in his area, he says, that he spends around two hours a week driving around and making note of new road names to update HERE maps.
He even helped correct our maps in Puerto Rico and Brazil, when he was there on vacation.
“I’ve always loved maps and those were the only maps on my phone. I just wanted to make them as good as I could,” Jason says.
Zachary says things in his town got so bad, that tour buses got lost trying to drive around.
Still without a driver’s license, Zachary convinced his parents to drive him around town, so he could scribble down road signs and business addresses. Then he contacted HERE to make the corrections. In just one year, Zachary has already made over 6000 corrections for HERE, and he is currently expanding his efforts to other parts of the state.
“It’s just kind of interested to see a bird’s eye view of everything around me and the way all the roads and everything connects. It fascinates me,” Zachary says.