Karen St.? 6th St. and 6th St.? Idaho street name issues plague Google Maps

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Did you know that Downtown Boise has a corner of 6th St. and 6th St.? Or that Capitol Blvd. intersects with Broadway Ave.?

No?

No.

But Google Maps will tell you these things are true. The widespread and popular mapping provider is seeing a large number of incorrect and inaccurate street labels in Ada Co. right now. Fifth St. is now apparently Fairview Ave., Idaho St. is now 6th St., Cole Rd. is now Hollilynn Dr., Orchard St. continues on along Gowen Rd. and more.

Up in McCall, Rio Vista Blvd. has been renamed Karen St.

The glitches impact the online and mobile apps, as well as navigation systems that rely on Google Maps. So directions might say to turn right on 6th St. when you’re already on 6th St. — when it really means to turn onto Idaho St.

What’s happening?

We checked with Google’s media team for comment on Wednesday and let them know of our deadline for this story. The company did not respond.

Earlier this month, after a reader, noticed a similar problem that impacted Cloverdale Rd. – where Google decided to now call it Columbia Rd., we checked in with the Ada County Highway District to see if it had any insight. Spokesperson Shandy Lam assured us that the street names hadn’t changed, and said it might be helpful to use Google’s “report a problem” features. After we checked in with Lam, the Cloverdale/Columbia issue cleared up.

While we hoped to learn from Google what might be happening, and we don’t know for sure, it’s possible it’s a form of digital vandalism.

In 2015, Google suspended – and then eliminated – a feature that allowed users to make changes to maps after several high-profile incidents (including one involving someone drawing a park on the map that showed an Android symbol doing unsightly things to an Apple logo). But users can still suggest changes to Google that are supposed to go through a review process. If there’s a breakdown in that process, perhaps someone is scrambling local street names.

The issues we’ve outlined don’t seem to be showing up on either Apple Maps or Bing Maps.

If we hear back from Google, we’ll update this story.

Update: A previous version of this story referred to speculation on one of the street names that we can’t verify without comment from Google. We’ve removed this from the story.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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