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Australian Government Fire Safety App Relies on Bad Apple Maps Data

February 16, 2013

By Cynthia Herbert :: 2:14 AM

Australia fire alert app is dangerous.Late last year, when Apple ditched Google as its provider of maps and map data and launched its own version of mapping software for its mobile operating system, it quickly crashed and burned with users across the world. Simple searches for well-known roads, landmarks and businesses no longer worked. Point-to-point directions were getting people lost, and into dangerous situations.

Once Google finally made a maps app available late last year, many users switched over and left the faulty Apple Maps in the dust. But not the government and fire departments of Victoria Australia.

The Victorian government has an iOS app called FireReady that relies on data from Apple Maps to provide information to residents.  The app is supposed to help residents get information about area wild fires, and determine accurate and safe escape routes from them.

An Australian Country Fire Authority spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper that the resulting situation make it “difficult to quickly determine the exact location of fires once alarm calls are being received. “ He explained that this is currently creating dangerous situations and delays to activate phone trees among residents if needed.

370,000 Australians have downloaded the app, and expect it to work in the case of a wildfire or similar emergency.

The mapping software provided by Apple doesn’t properly display the names of cities and towns, and so far, Apple has not been very responsive to the County Fire Authority’s requests for help.

With all the known issues with Apple Maps, it is surprising that the government chose to employ such a solution, but the government spokesperson told the Herald that they were “forced to use Apple Maps.” He explained, “when apps get integrated into an iPhone, they connect up to the native Maps App. In the Yelp app, for example, the “open Maps app” widget directs to Apple Maps, even if Google or Nokia’s are installed on the phone. That’s just the way it works. When looking for restaurants, it’s not such a big deal. When trying to warn people about fires, however, we’d go with Google.”

[FireReady app info]