Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 7.54.50 AMYesterday I saw a link in my twitter stream which caught my interest Apple Maps flaw results in drivers crossing airport runway. The mapping product would actually route you across taxiways and an active runway (see image in the BBC article).  Using Google Street view it appears fairly simple to get onto the airport property by car. Admittedly there are signs which warn of aircraft operations. As the article says there is even a barrier there, but as you can see in this screen grab it appears you can actually go around it without any effort.

First let me say it’s good no-one was hurt by this software glitch. When talking about risk I always measure risk based on “could someone die”. I have worked for a company where someone could die so I believe we need to keep our risks realistic. In the case of this glitch … yes someone could have died.

When it comes to Apple maps … yes it has a defect … is anyone shocked out there?! That’s not a statement against Apple (my family owns 6 Apple products and we love them). It’s software created by humans in an imperfect world so it will have defects unfortunately. I’m not sure if that’s a software or data glitch. I’ve never worked on mapping software but I can imagine a few possible scenarios of what caused this.

What strikes me in this is the users. “I was following my iPhone”. It’s not the first time we’ve seen such a thing. A couple of years ago a couple was following their GPS down a back country road thinking it was a short cut.  At some point the road got bad enough they got stuck.  “we were following the GPS”.

It scares me that we’re becoming a world where we are willing to follow technology so blindly. We need to remember we are responsible for ourselves. If someone would have died while one of the cars was on a runway, would it be acceptable to blame the GPS? What about all the signs warning or aircraft operations, weird taxiway and runway paintings, or the simple fact you’re driving around aircraft to get there? Was nothing in all of that an indication.

I am putting out a call to everyone!  Be responsible for your own actions!  Stop blaming or justifying what happens on the technology. They are only tools to make our lives a little bit easier. Tools should never replace our freedom and choice to be responsible for ourselves.

I had to try this myself in Apple maps. I can navigate from my home to anywhere in Fairbanks … except the airport. It seems Apple has disabled navigating to the airport while they fix this defect. Likely a wise move on their part before more people justify driving on the airport grounds on their mapping product.

 

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