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Nicaragua Raids Costa Rica, Blames Google Maps 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-was-just-following-my-gps dept.
Garabito writes "An error on Google Maps has caused an international conflict in Central America. A Nicaraguan military commander, relying on Google Maps, moved troops into an area near San Juan Lake along the border between his country and Costa Rica (Google translation of Spanish original). The troops are accused of setting up camp there, taking down a Costa Rican flag and raising the Nicaraguan flag, doing work to clean up a nearby river, and dumping the sediment in Costa Rican territory."
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Nicaragua Raids Costa Rica, Blames Google Maps

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  • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jgagnon (1663075) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:51AM (#34134618)

    A classic case of misinformation being worse than no information. However, Google does have a disclaimer on the service about possible errors.

    It shouldn't, but it amazes me how a military force from one country can take action based on information from a free service offered by a company in another country. It boggles the mind.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @09:20AM (#34134896)

    I am a US resident, and I don't find the parent post trolling. It is rather apt.

  • the bond film?

    the bad guy is basically rupert murdoch (played by jonathan pryce)

    he brings china and the uk to the brink of war by hacking the gps satellite's signals, making a british warship think it is in international territory when it has actually strayed into chinese waters. launch a few missiles... china thinks the uk is firing on them, the uk thinks china is firing on them: all in a plot to sell more newspapers (well, it is 1997, when newspapers were still relevant)

    reality is beginning to resemble the plots of bond movies

    i'm waiting for dr. no to become reality

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @09:36AM (#34135066)

    The clueless summary gets it wrong. I live in Costa Rica - the problem isn't dredging the river, it's that Nicaragua is dumping all the gunk on the Costa Rican side of the river and destroying protected forests.

  • by benwiggy (1262536) on Friday November 05, 2010 @09:39AM (#34135108)
    It doesn't really matter whether the data is accurate. There are all sorts of diplomatic incidents from soldiers not reading the map correctly.

    For instance, in 2002, the UK Royal Marines accidentally invaded Spain, because of a map reading error.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1827554.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    Hence the old joke: "What's the most dangerous thing in the British Army? -- An officer with a map."

  • not the first time (Score:2, Informative)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Friday November 05, 2010 @09:52AM (#34135250) Journal
    That border area has been under dispute for some time. I'm sure they knew exactly what they were doing.
    In fact the entire Guanacaste region used to be part of Nicaragua.
  • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:05AM (#34135412) Homepage Journal

    Actually I doubt that do have better information than Google does. Not that many nations have the resources to spend on that type of tool that the US, NATO, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, and so on do.
    A lot of nations will get that type of Data from the US or Russia depending on who they are friends with at the time.
    Heck for a long time U2 pilots where buying handheld GPS units because the U2 was still waiting for it's official upgrade. Later the units bought them as a COTS rescue aid but used them for navigation.
    I actually read about B-1 units wiring in unofficial GPS antennas and using notebooks for navigation while waiting for that plane to get it's update.
    Nothing is unusual about this except that in this case it came back to byte them.
    BTW Google maps are not that accurate in many places so if you are going to use them to navigate and RPV I would double check them.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Informative)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:24AM (#34135650) Journal

    I once got driving directions that told me “turn left”... off an overpass. (It’s fixed now.)

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Informative)

    by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:01AM (#34136146) Journal

    If you're fiscally conservative and want to end the all-war-all-the-time state of things, there's only one party you should be voting for. [lp.org]

  • Map & Compass (Score:4, Informative)

    by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:58AM (#34137094) Homepage Journal

    I concur. This wasn't a mistake. Map & compass has worked well for a long, long time. Soldiers were able to navigate the jungles long before the arrival of GPS, Google Maps, and checkin apps. In a country like Nicaragua that has a small military budget, land navigation training has to be part of the core training, at least for NCOs, and certainly for officers. I can't think of a single nation that has done away with land nav training; doing so would be like forgoing marksmanship training.

    The only other explanation is that the guy in charge of the mission was a complete incompetent, and his subordinates either weren't paying attention or didn't have the balls to tell him he was fucking up.

  • Re:Idiots all around (Score:2, Informative)

    by cascajal (1378335) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:15PM (#34140310) Homepage
    Its not trash its sediments, Nicaragua unilaterally decided to clean the sediments from the bottom of the river. Where they left the "trash" is a protected are due to its biodiversity. Costa Rica told them, "hey thats Costa Rica, get off" they answered, "no, we stay here" Keep in mind Costa Rica doesnt has an army

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