Can Google sort out their messy addresses in Ireland?

I know addresses in Ireland are a bit complicated and inconsistent.  40% of addresses are non unique and there isn’t an “official” version.  There’s a good description of the complexities on the AutoAddress site.

However, Google seems to be making things worse themselves.

1. Can you direct me to Guinness at Ushers ?

In central Dublin and Cork, Google generally include the Electoral Division (aka ward or DED) in the address, sometimes in a truncated form.  So, while the Eircode website, which is about the nearest thing we have to an “official” address database, gives the address of the Guinness Storehouse as Saint James’s Gate, Dublin 8, D08 VF8H. Google Maps lists it as St James’s Gate, Ushers, Dublin 8.
 Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 16.24.28
The issue is not just for commercial addresses, what the Eircode site lists as 7 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2, D02 EE39, Google maps says is 7 Adelaide Road, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin.
Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 16.26.48
I imagine that someone in Google decided that it would be a good idea to divide addresses into localities which are more fine grained that the postal districts.  This would be a nice idea except that there are no official divisions which are widely understood by Dublin residents or used on regular city maps.  The names of Electoral Divisions are probably only known by candidates for Dublin City Council, a few City officials and some GIS geeks who use census data.   The names, which appear to date to the 19th century are very obscure and mean nothing to the vast majority of people in Dublin, residents or visitors.
 Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 20.41.53.png
The Guinness Storehouse is located in Usher’s C Electoral District, hence Google’s inclusion of “Ushers” in the address.  I imagine the name “Usher’s” came originally from “Ushers Island” which is quayside street about 1.5km away.  However Usher’s Island is not a particularly well known street and no-one would refer to the area around it as “Ushers”.  Similarly no-one would refer to the area around Adelaide Road as “St Kevin’s”.
The inclusion of such detail adds confusion: a visitor to Dublin will not get anywhere near Guinness Storehouse (Dublin’s busiest tourist attraction) by asking for “Ushers”.  The inclusion of data which most users would deem incorrect diminishes the credibility of Google and causes real life issues, as discussed below..
The issue may originate from Google using OpenStreetMap’s address hierarchy.  The information OSM holds about a street includes its Electoral Division but, as pointed out above, most Dubliners would be blissfully unaware of their ED and would not identify with its name.
 Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 21.00.20

 

I’ve had a look at the API using one of the examples above.  The result was:

{
   "results" : [
      {
         "address_components" : [
            {
               "long_name" : "D02 EE39",
               "short_name" : "D02 EE39",
               "types" : [ "postal_code" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Saint Kevin's",
               "short_name" : "Saint Kevin's",
               "types" : [ "neighborhood", "political" ]
            },
            {
               "long_name" : "Dublin",
               "short_name" : "Dublin",
               "types" : [ "locality", "political" ]
...

The issue is that “Saint Kevin’s” is not a neighbourhood. I doubt there is widespread agreement what “neighbourhood” that part of Adelaide Road is in. If you ask locals, they’ll probably give a variety of answers, though I am sure no-one will say “Saint Kevin’s”. The same is true of most places in central Dublin.

I know the lack of officially agreed neighbourhoods may not suit Google’s standards but inventing their own only creates issues.

2. My townland is under concrete!

A related problem exists outside Dublin and Cork cities.  Google seems to include townland names in the address, even in urban areas where the fields which comprised the townland have long since disappeared under concrete and brick and the townland name removed from official maps, if they ever existed.
For example, according to the Eircode database, the Wexford Opera House is at High Street, Wexford, Y35 FEP3.  Google maps gives this as High St, Ferrybank South, Wexford, Y35 FEP3.  As far as I can tell from OpenStreetMap.org, Ferrybank South is a townland about 1.5km away across the Slaney.
Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 20.45.19
It seems that someone is Google has decided that addresses outside the big cities must include a townland name.  For rural addresses this is correct. However Wexford town, being urbanised since the 10th century, does not have townlands.  Google seem to have dealt with this by including the nearest one…

3. Google’s half-hearted snog with Eircode

Eircode is Ireland’s “postcode” system which was launched in 2015.  Unlike other postcode system, each address has a unique Eircode.  Google maps has supported Eircode since late in 2016.  Most (not all) addresses seem to include the Eircode and if you type in an Eircode, the map centres on the appropriate building.
The latter feature has not been properly integrated as the specific address information is not presented back.  So if you type in “D02 EE39”, which is the Eircode for 7 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2, the pin is located correctly on 7 Adelaide Road but the address displayed is simply “Saint Kevin’s, Dublin 2”.  Of course, as described in issue 1, this “locality” is meaningless.  Furthermore the Streetview image often does not match the address,
Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 20.52.06
This has a direct effect on websites and apps which use Google Apps, for example Deliveroo.  For example, if you search for D05 E5W5 on Deliveroo, it helpfully suggests the location is “Ireland”!  If you search on Four Star Pizza, which does not use Google Maps, it gives a lot more information.
IMG_0010
If Google staff in Dublin need a pizza delivered in a hurry they should avoid apps which use Google Maps!  As more apps  which use Google maps become popular, these issues are sure to affect more and more people.
Google don’t make it easy to send feedback about their maps.  There are options to report a specific issue but not to report a systemic issue.  So unless we can get people to report about 800,000 addresses, I’m not sure how this can be fixed.
In the interim, I really hope the emergency services are not depending on Google map data.

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