Google Maps is at the center of a border dispute... again. A few months ago, Cambodia and Thailand argued over territory after Google Maps drew the border between the countries in the wrong spot. Well, now the exact same issue is happening in South America.
The Nicaraguan government sent police and military forces into Costa Rica to take over land Nicaragua says is inside its territory. It’s source of justification: Google Maps. It’s a debate that has gone on for more than a century, and now Google finds itself smack dab in the middle of the row.
“Just last week Nicaraguan troops crossed the border into Costa Rica, took down their flag and replaced it with the Nicaraguan flag. Now the troop leader told a local newspaper that he used Google Maps to identify the area but it turns out that Google’s borderline was off by 2 kilometers.”
Google’s Geo-Policy Analyst Charlie Hale admitted to the mistake last week on the company’s official blog.
“This morning...we determined that there was indeed an error in the compilation of the source data, by up to 2.7 kilometers. The U.S. Department of State has provided a corrected version and we are now working to update our maps.”
Google fixed the map after it got an accurate map from the U.S. Department of State. The secretary of the OAS -- or Organization of American States -- José Miguel Insulza -- tells a Costa Rican newspaper, he hopes talks will resolve the tension.
“Yo creo que la solución para esto está en un diálogo que permita el amojonamiento de toda la frontera... ojalá que en los próximos días podamos reconstruir la confianza.”
(English: “I think the solution for this is in a dialogue that permits the demarcation of the entire border...I hope that in the days to come we can rebuild the trust.”)
The whole situation has the people in each of these countries up in arms. A contributor to the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa expresses his frustration with Google...
“...se robó primero la isla a Costa Rica y se la dio a Nicaragua que estupidos.”
(English: “[Google] first stole the island from Costa Rica and gave it to Nicaragua. How stupid.”
But Minor Gómez Matamoros tells La Nación, Nicaragua can’t just blame Google here. There’s common sense to consider.
“¿Qué pasaría si Google hubiera mostrado que alguna parte del San Juan pertenecía a Costa Rica?...Estamos cansados de tantas excusas y argumentos de tan poco peso.”
(English: “What would happen if Google had shown that some part of the San Juan [river] belonged to Costa Rica? We’re tired of all of the excuses and arguments of such little weight.”
Common sense aside, bloggers on the website Big Think say this border debate highlights emerging problems with mapping technology.
“The still unfolding episode falls into a broader pattern of how technology is affecting traditional international relations issues ... Look for GPS technologies to be widely deployed as nations seek to make their maps more precise - but potentially challenging even settled and accepted boundaries in the process.”
Although the map has been fixed, the two nations continue to debate over the invasion and the border. So, is Google being manipulated in this fight? Or did it re-ignite the debate?
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