The tricky part of pedestrian navigation is, that it actually involves a lot of refinement work on current base maps in order to provide a good service. Using regular digital road maps, as we know them in Google Maps for instance, is just not possible. Pedestrians need different information. Most maps currently used in navigation devices are made by and for people in cars, moving at 35km/h and faster. As pedestrian you move slower, on other paths and parts of the street, your orientation senses work differently, you notice other landmarks, signs, use short-cuts, cross streets randomly and can make u-turns whenever you want to.
Nokia Maps 3.0 has some enhancements aimed to help pedestrians. I especially found the 3D-like landmark drawings on the map and the continuous reverse geocoding very helpful. I think I already mentioned in an earlier post the very well done cartography, optimized for smaller displays.
Walking directions work in most cases well. Nokia Maps knows the park next to the subway station I often use and shows me the shortest path to it.
Seems an easy task, but Google Maps, based on TeleAtlas’ road network in that area, shows some fantasy foot paths inside the park and suggests another route circling around.
The quality of the returned walking directions depend on the strength of the GPS signal in some cases. If it’s weak, Nokia Maps doesn’t dare to send you out to take a walk on a three lane street full with speeding cars.
Imagine you step out the subway station and ask Nokia Maps for the shortest way walking to your destination. If you’re lucky and the signal is good, Nokia Maps snaps you to the right street and returns good results.
Let’s assume it’s a bad GPS day and your signal is about 10m off, happens quite frequently in urban areas. Nokia snaps you on a 3 car-lane street and suggest you start walking there. Not good.
That’s what the situation looks like on the aerial. The subway station was under construction then, but there is an exit next to the containers. Anyways, a pedestrian navigation service should never propose walking on that road.
Other services I tried in that area had some problems too. Google Maps sent you on the same road. OpenRouteService basically returned a good walking route, but didn’t know that you had to jump off a 3m wall to reach the nice foot path along the canal.