SatNavs Miss Heritage Points

According to this Times Article, the satnav is causing us to travel about in ignorance:

This weekend thousands of Britons will set off on journeys across these ancient islands following instructions that detail every roundabout and Broad on their way. Their satellite navigation systems, mobile phones or online mapping services will tell them exactly where to go.

The only thing missing will be any real sense of where they are.

Medieval churches, woodlands and stately homes will not be marked on their maps. Wetlands, Viking burial grounds, castles, cathedrals and all the quirks, nooks and crannies of the landscape will have vanished into the grey spaces between the roads.

Uh, missing the point I think. I use a satnav and have been doing so since I first hitched up a Garmin GPS receiver with my Psion Series 5 loaded with what became Tom Tom’s mapping software (they were known as Palmtop in those days). I use it for one very good reason; I can navigate while watching the road ahead and not have to stop to check the map. I do use maps when planning a journey or when looking for those heritage sites before setting out, but, frankly, I don’t give two hoots about them when I am trying to get from home to a work location (or back) in the most efficient manner possible.

In a speech to more than a thousand geographers, all of whom had managed to find their way to the building for the society’s annual conference, Mary Spence said that Britain’s heritage was being wiped from the map.

Presumably Mary Spence hasn’t come across POIs? Among which, coincidentally (or not) are, er, heritage sites. Well I never!


Update: Via JuliaM in the comments Dizzy has picked up on this one, too.


Another update: Jeremy Jacobs making an off-topic comment over at The Broadstreet Rag came up with this piece of nonsense:

Can we ban sat-navs as well?

Pointless invention.

I don’t know whether he is being “ironic” or obtuse, but the use of the “ban” word is guaranteed to make my blood boil. I appreciate that many people don’t see the need for this technology. Fine. I don’t see the need for computer games. But – and here’s the crucial point – you will never see me calling for them to be banned. I don’t like computer games, so I don’t buy them. I do not suggest that everyone else be forced to comply with my prejudices. It’s a simple enough concept – yet it is one apparently intelligent people have difficulty grasping.


  1. I’ve been thinking about getting one (I love new gadgets), but the drawback is, as Dizzy said, that you’d have to go somewhere that you didn’t know to justify buying it…

    I have no doubt Mary’s now lobbying to have POIs added to all satnavs as standard rather than as a user-defined option. Just to keep her people in business. 😉

    JuliaMs last blog post..What’s England Coming To…?

  2. I often use it for places that I’ve been to before – it’s just that I go to a lot of places, so cannot always remember all of the route (particularly around London) – even though my sense of direction is well developed. The traffic master is also useful as it will reroute to avoid traffic congestion. Okay, sometimes that’s a mixed blessing, but overall, it keeps me moving.

    On balance, I wouldn’t be without one. I can thoroughly recommend the Garmin range. I use the Zumo as it is designed primarily for motorcycles and can be transferred easily to a car. Excellent piece of kit.

  3. On Dizzy’s point:

    Satnav makes you stupid, although it’s possible that you might already be stupid too.

    I think, primarily, it’s the latter leading to the former. A satnav is just a satnav. Its use is as good as its operator. I can tell when mine is feeding me a line – that sense of direction again 😉

  4. Julia

    A sat-nav wouldn’t have helped last night in East Kent. M2 blocked both ways. Later yesterday evening after having taken 4 hours from the Kent coast, I came across road-works on the North Circular at Edmonton. There were “Diversion” signs and within a few minutes I was back on track. No need for a sat-nav.
    Neither would it have helped today when the heavens opened and parts of North London came to a stand-still. (Half the problem with flooding has been the concreting over of gardens, town centres etc).

    Sat-navs, Google Maps, are taking the thinking out of driving and turning us all into automatons. Incapable of reading maps or to use one’s own common sense.

    Why don’t you use an A-Z or read road signs?

  5. Mine has traffic master, so would have diverted me around any hold-ups before I got there. This can be a mixed blessing as there is a bit of time lag between the hold-up and the information getting to the satnav. That said, no one has suggested that they are a cure-all. They are a useful navigation aid, that is all.

    Sat-navs, Google Maps, are taking the thinking out of driving and turning us all into automatons. Incapable of reading maps or to use one’s own common sense.

    No, they are not. I am perfectly capable of using both maps and common sense in conjunction with Google maps and my satnav. They are tools like any other tool. Did the invention of power tools make my father a less skilled joiner? Of course not, it made him more efficient.

    Why don’t you use an A-Z or read road signs?

    Quite apart from the distraction involved with trying to read atlases or maps while moving or trying to find somewhere safe to stop (I do use road signs in conjunction with the satnav in city centres) – a satnav giving voice prompts minimises distraction and enables the driver to concentrate on traffic conditions; have you tried reading an A to Z on a motorcycle? Satnav for the motorcyclist is a boon. In French cities where road signage can be confusing, satnav has made such navigation simple rather than the frustrating experience that it once was.

    Bottom line – you don’t want one. That’s fine, your choice. I do. That is my choice. Can we please accept each other’s choices without using the “B” word, please?

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