Archives August 3, 2018

As Google Maps Renames Neighbourhoods, Residents Fume

For decades, the district south of downtown and alongside San Francisco Bay here was known as either Rincon Hill, South Beach or South of Market. This spring, it was suddenly rebranded on Google Maps to a name few had heard: the East Cut. The peculiar moniker immediately spread digitally, from hotel sites to dating apps to Uber, which all use Google’s map data. The name soon spilled over into the physical world, too. Real-estate listings beckoned prospective tenants to the East Cut. And news organizations referred to the vicinity by that term.

“It’s degrading to the reputation of our area,” said Tad Bogdan, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years. In a survey of 271 neighbors that he organized recently, he said, 90 percent disliked the name. The swift rebranding of the roughly 170-year-old district is just one example of how Google Maps has now become the primary arbiter of place names. With decisions made by a few Google cartographers, the identity of a city, town or neighborhood can be reshaped, illustrating the outsize influence that Silicon Valley increasingly has in the real world.

Phone and internet use: Calls drop, screen time increases

Two in five adults look at their phone within five minutes of waking, while a third check their phones just before falling asleep, according to Ofcom.

A high percentage (71%) say they never turn off their phones and 78% say they could not live without it.

The average daily time spent on a smartphone is two hours 28 minutes, rising to three hours 14 minutes for 18 to 24-year-olds, the report indicates.

Most people expect a constant internet connection, with the majority of adults saying the internet is an essential part of their lives, and one in five spending more than 40 hours a week online.

Our obsession with our phones is good news for advertisers. Nearly a quarter of all advertising spend is now on mobiles, and if mobile advertising was stripped away, ad revenue would be in decline for the first time.

Other findings from the report include:

  • 42% of houses now own a smart TV – with Ofcom predicting this will rise substantially in coming years
  • the average household spends £124 on communication services each month
  • 40% of households subscribe to Netflix
  • one in eight homes now has a smart speaker