Google Maps Loses Sunrise, Florida…Again

Sunrise, Florida, a town of 90,000 people, was strangely missing from the Google Maps website for at least a month this summer. Users who searched for the city were directed to Sarasota, Florida, which is 200 miles away from Sunrise. Google has apparently fixed the error, as Sunrise could be found on Wednesday on the map site. But the fix didn’t come before a healthy dose of public outcry.

The mayor of Sunrise, Mike Ryan, says this is the third time Sunrise has been dropped from the Google Maps website. Ryan says that he understands that the technical workings of the internet are complicated, and mistakes are bound to occur, but finds it ridiculous that the same city would be dropped on three different occasions. To illustrate how absurd the incident is, Ryan even sent a map of the city to Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Sunrise isn’t the first city Google Maps has misplaced, either. According to the blog Search Engine Land, five other cities have been lost and then found by Google Maps. The previously missing cities are La Jolla, California, Rogers, Minnesota, Wickliffe, Ohio, Imperial Beach, California, and Woodstock, Virginia.

Google has not offered any explanation on any of the outages, but says they strive to offer the most up-to-date maps available. The company, based in Mountain View, California, says their maps our constructed from a variety of sources including the US Census Bureau and commercial data sources, and they use a variety of satellite images to complete the maps.

Search Engine Land theorized in their report that the recent loss of cities from Google Maps may have been caused by the fact that Google recently made a change in the company they purchase map information from. Google severed their relationship with TeleAtlas about a year ago and all of the lost city incidents have occurred since then. Google has declined to comment on the theory.

While the idea of a city disappearing from a digital map may seem harmless, some Sunrise residents were affected directly by the issue. Local business owners, for instance, said they lost business because people couldn’t locate them. Local consumers, meanwhile, were unable to locate businesses themselves.