For maps, detail is king

Streetdirectory.com launches a redesign, trumps "accuracy" card and takes a cautious step toward user-generated data.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Streetdirectory.com's edge lies in its detail, said Firdhaus Akber, Streetdirectory.com managing director.

Akber told ZDNet Asia in an interview, the Singaporean mapping site still holds its edge over competitors like Google Maps because of the level of information captured on its maps like bus stops and carpark locations.

The company has a stable of some 40 surveyors collecting street data, and spends about half its operating costs on data collection, as well as training these surveyors to provide usable data to the site.

Akber said this is necessary to keep the maps accurate, as well as frequently updated because "Singapore roads change so fast".

Unlike Google, the company appears to be launching cautiously into the territory of user-generated data.

Still trumping the accuracy card, Akber said Streetdirectory.com accepts user feedback, but sends surveyors out to verify information submitted before the site's editorial team includes it in the maps.

Google Maps, on the other hand, relies on user-submitted tags to demarcate locations. Akber said this has resulted in numerous inaccurately-tagged landmarks, on the search giant's maps service, which "can be confusing" to users. Landmarks are also often tagged multiple times but at slightly different spots on maps, leading to users having to guess which is the correct tag, he added.

This accuracy, said Akber, has allowed it to retain its audience of some 150,000 unique visitors a day, in spite of a six-month hiatus last year.

"No one has overtaken our traffic in the six months we were down," he said.

The site was rebuilt from scratch and relaunched last August, to avoid legal issues after its then-owner, Virtual Maps, lost a copyright infringement case to the Singapore Land Authority.

But the site is not cutting out user-generated content altogether. Its restaurant listings section, built around a site redesign launched Friday, allows users to submit reviews of restaurants which are "less policed"--scanned for offensive content but uncensored for negative reviews.

"Google Maps is about breadth, if you want to jump from [maps of] country to country. We're focusing on Asia," said Akber.

Streetdirectory.com plans to collect data on maps for Jakarta, the Philippines and the Malaysian states of Kuala Lumpur and Johor next.

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