Pushpin Dilemma


Where to put the pushpin to indicate the location or address of the establishment has been a problem for me at times. I used to just geocode the addresses using whatever comes in handy like Google Maps, Bing, GPS Visualizer, iTouchMap, and lately just EPE and use the resulting coordinates. However, the real problem comes not just from getting inaccurate coordinates, but more from which one to choose or use. By that I mean is it best just to use the geocoded street address (which can be way off), the location of the icon where the establishment is according to Google or the company's website (way off at times), the front door entrance (if you can tell where it is), the driveway or driveways and which one? It seems nothing is near perfect. Regarding the driveways, with establishments located within huge and complex shopping centers, there could be 2 or more alleys or driveway entrances leading towards the buildings, and the best one to use depends on where you're coming from, as far as routing is concerned.

I've tried them all, but after having done some simulation routing using my GPSr, using one or the other sometimes produce undesirable results, noticeably when the establishment in question is located inside huge shopping centers and near freeways and freeway on ramps and off ramps. That's my dilemma.

The Driveway

I always use the driveway. I always use EPE and let it first geocode the address. I then click on maximize the map, go to satellite mode and zoom in as much as possible.

Sometimes, it's obvious, based on the satellite image, but you might have to go to street view to look for things like an address number or a business sign, to confirm that you are at the right place.

If it's in a mall, it might be harder. Mall roads don't often show on the gps and the same is true for going to the front door of the business. The gps might think you're going off road. Again, this is where Street View could be helpful, to find the store that you want, and then to determine which driveway puts you closest to that store.

In some cases the mall road might show as a legitimate road, but its safer to not to get too anal about it and default to using the closest driveway. In most cases the store should be easily found, once you pull into the driveway.

Drag the marker to the appropriate driveway, and click on grab, if using EPE, or get the coordinates if you're using some mapping program.


I also

nats50 wrote:

Where to put the pushpin to indicate the location or address of the establishment has been a problem for me at times. ... It seems nothing is near perfect. ... and the best one to use depends on where you're coming from, as far as routing is concerned\

I agreed to take over all of the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft files and was given a file that basically had where www.joann.coms' "Store Locator" placed the location.

For anyone who is familiar with the Jo-Ann stores, he/she knows that they are almost always in strip malls and outdoor shopping centers. However, the address is almost always based on the nearest major road. So sometime, one might drive considerable distance from the "address" to the actual store.

So, when I got to checking the file out (using EPE), I found that the coordinates left a lot to be desired. Every now and then, the coordinates would be the store itself. Most often the coordinates put you along a road - but rarely at a place where you should turn in to get most directly to the store.

So here is what I decided to do - and it will take me a long time (for which I apologize to those who would like a complete file right now).

I am going to put the "pushpin" at the turn-in/entrance/driveway that hopefully accomplishes several things.

This turn-in will allow you easy access regardless of which way you are proceeding on the "route" to get there. That is, on a divided road, there will be an allowable left turn at that point.

Whenever there is a choice of entrances, I try to choose the one that has the shopping center signage giving the stores in that area. Doing this would give me - if I was navigating there - confidence that I as on the right track because I would see "Jo-Ann" along with other stores.

To do the above, I have to work backwards, so to speak. I first locate the Jo-Ann sign on the actual building and save those "front door" coordinates. This is not easy even using Google Earth and "street view". Depending on when the Google image was taken, I may not find anything at all. This is because Jo-Ann seems to use spaces that were some other store but became vacant.

I have called the store and asked the customer representative to give me stores close to them which I can locate (Oh, we are right next to Best Buy, etc).

Now, I look at a "satellite" view and decide what would be the best entrance (also looking for the shopping mall signage). The entrance becomes the coordinates of the file.

However, over time, I will have coordinates for the front door also (saved in the comment field of a .gpx file)

At the moment, there are still too many locations (out of 850) where I just have not found the store any closer that what the www.joann.com "store locator" offers.

A few Other Tips

Although EPE works well for this purpose and much more, I prefer to use Google Earth directly. I usually keep it booted while working in Basecamp or Mapsource and copy / paste addresses or coordinates for easy reference.

The tips outlined by GPSgeek and Jgermann are well taken and quite useful for locating establishments and / or driveway locations but don’t overlook Google Earth's historical imagery or the photo overlay. Sometimes information can be found by viewing older aerial views and posted photos if any are available.

Garmin’s Bird’s Eye Imagery is another source of information. Occasionally, but unfortunately not often, the aerial images are taken at a different time of year and at a different angle than those used in Google Earth. Bird’s Eye Imagery is free to download to Basecamp but there is a fee to download to a GPSr.

As you’ve discovered, test routing using the GPSr and not relying on imported routes created in Mapsource or Basecamp is a good idea. The routing parameters are often quite different.

Close But No Cigar?

Maybe Garmin's 2014 Nuvi Advanced Series models would ease the burden of determining the exact locations! wink

BTW, I agree with tips outlined by GPSgeek, jgermann and bdhsfz6. However, I did a little experimenting by doing simulation routings using different start and end points, and I got expected and unexpected surprises! I used my older Nuvi 2250 with the latest map and firmware for the simulation, and using different combination of settings (Calculation Mode, Avoidances). I also used Google Earth and Maps with Street View for the coordinates. I chose this branch of BevMo (26946 The Old Road, Stevenson Ranch CA 91381) since it's only about a few miles from where I live, and is a good example of how critical it is in choosing where to put the pushpin. From best to worst, I used these 4 points for end points and labelled them as:

1. Closest Driveway Entrance -> -118.578929,34.411079
2. Front Door Entrance -> -118.578551,34.410623
3. Google Icon Address -> -118.578363,34.410546
4. Geocoded Street Address -> -118.578294,34.410599

As far as this particular location is concerned, it seems the best one to choose is Closest Driveway Entrance, and the Geocoded Street Address is the worst. However, it seems it also depends on where the start point is or where you're coming from. As you can see from the map or satellite image, this particular branch sits just about halfway between The Old Road and the Interstate 5 freeway. If you chose either option 3 or 4 and coming from the north on I-5, once you're on the off ramp near the BevMo branch, the gps would tell you "arriving at BevMo on right" and you're on your own. If you're on The Old Road heading either north or south, depending on your starting point also and chosen end point, you're in for a surprise, depending on your route settings as well. Oh well... wink

Aim at the driveway

I tried a few times to place the coordinate right at the front door in a parking lot. But that often confused the Nuvi even more since it didn't have the parking lot 'streets' in it. It tried to compute straight-line routes from the closest known streets. I've had no troubles with just setting the pin at the parking lot entrance. You can almost always see your goal from there.

Close enough to see

johnc wrote:

I tried a few times to place the coordinate right at the front door in a parking lot. But that often confused the Nuvi even more since it didn't have the parking lot 'streets' in it. It tried to compute straight-line routes from the closest known streets. I've had no troubles with just setting the pin at the parking lot entrance. You can almost always see your goal from there.

I try to get within visual of POI. Sometimes on the money, sometimes close enough to see and maybe alittle monuevering.

Driveway Entrance For The Most Part

Originally, I would just do batch geocoding using whatever programs or websites such as GPS Visualizer, iTouchMap, Google Earth and Maps, and eventually EPE and that was it. Sure enough, some geocoded locations turned out inaccurate or impractical. Yes, choosing the front door entrance at times can be impractical. It really becomes a problem whenever an establishment is situated within a huge and complicated shopping complex, with multiple driveway entrances on different streets. Which one is best really depends on where you're coming from, you know. You can't satisfy everyone without being biased, so to speak. If only the gpsr treated the alleys, driveways and mall roads as actual roads!

Nonetheless, you need to pick one and I've decided just to use the nearest driveway entrance for the most part regardless of whether or not it's on the actual street address. That is why I need to overhaul my files.

I still like doing it that way

johnc wrote:

I tried a few times to place the coordinate right at the front door in a parking lot. But that often confused the Nuvi even more since it didn't have the parking lot 'streets' in it.

I've used Google Earth for years and frequently did exactly that. I used to get a kick out of the GPS telling me to "navigate off road" when I entered the parking lot that it knew nothing about.

From the list of features on the 2014 model Garmins, we may see increasing map detail in larger malls in the future. It looks like the internal POIs are going to direct you "near the Best Buy entrance". Of course, that still leaves thousand of smaller shopping centers with essentially no details. I think you "do your best" as you work on each location and remember that getting people to the parking lot is the best you'll ever be able to do in some cases.

Garmin Drivesmart 61, Nuvi 52, Nuvi 1390

Getting There?

As Bob.Sedona said, the 2014 model Garmins seem to be getting there with features such as Foursquare and Direct Access. Could save a lot of trouble and making it easier for us.

Assumption about user

When someone is building a custom POI file for poi-factory, it is worthwhile considering why someone would want to download the file for their personal use.

Let's consider one of the most downloaded and beloved of all our files - Rest Areas Combined (found at http://www.poi-factory.com/node/6643). What assumption can be made about why members download this file?

Well, I think it is safe to assume that members would want this file so that - while they are traveling on the interstates - they can receive an "alert" whenever there is a rest area coming up. I have seen threads that debate whether the "alert" needs to be a mile or more or whether one-half mile is significant. People have their own opinion as to the proper distance, but the point is that you can set an alert that will notify you in advance for pit stops.

Note that any "alerts" for Rest Areas will not notify you of a Rest Area on the other side of the highway because - to get there, you would have to go to the next exit and loop back in the opposite direction.

Also, note that the "alerts" work because MrKenFL has spent considerable time making sure that his "pushpin" is on the exit ramp and falls within 30 meters (about 98 feet) of the centerline of that side of the highway on which you are traveling.

So - anyone making a custom POI file might consider the assumption that users of the files might want alerts. This would certainly be a reasonable assumption for, say, Starbucks or Tim Hortons - time for a cup of coffee. This argues for the "pushpin" being placed at the best driveway/intersection to arrive at the destination (and not at the front door because that might alert).

Why? Well, in all likelihood, the front door is more that 30 meters (approximately 98 feet) from the center of the road of travel and "along the route alerts" will not work.

Now, consider the Cracker Barrel file which is maintained by CharlesD45 (found at http://www.poi-factory.com/node/17225).

Most people know that Cracker Barrels are off the beaten path. It would be extremely unlikely that an "along the route alert" would ever sound for a Cracker Barrel. That is why those of us who know that you can always get a good meal a a Cracker Barrel while traveling have set this particular custom POI file up as a "TourGuide" (mine has a 5 mile radius but it could be up to 38 miles as I recall).

You can debate the distance, but what you would want to set it at would be far enough away for you and those traveling with you to decide whether soon would be a good time to stop and eat. If so, you could press the alert oval to begin navigating to the restaurant.

Now, CharlesD45 has his "pushpin" set at the front door. But, let's look at an entry from this file.


Franklin-4210 Franklin Commons Ct I-65 Exit #65 ,Bus and RV Parking,(615) 794-8195

Can you see the "assumption" that has been made. It is that you need to know which Exit to take to get there. If you are in a RV, you know there will be easy parking for you. The TourGuide approach would work as would just having one of the passengers look for Cracker Barrel in the Custom POIs. What would show would be those locations that are nearest to you (and you get to see the direction so your passenger could choose one in your direction of travel). Now you see the exit that you need to be looking for making it easy to get there.

My point is that POI file creators need to consider how the file will be used when deciding where to put the "pushpin". If there is even a remote possibility that the user would have an "along the route alert", I suggest that the "pushpin" needs to be at the "best driveway/intersection".

"Best" is not always easy, by the way. Let me give you my experience with Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. The driveway/intersection may not be on the road which represents the store's "address". I have found instances where that address is literally on a road behind the strip mall where the store is located with no easy way to get to the front of the store. Sometime the store address is on a divided highway such that if you are traveling on the wrong direction you "cannot get there from here". In these instances, I usually put the "pushpin" on a street that will allow either direction to enter the driveway/intersection. If I have a choice of several driveway/intersections, I will choose the one that has shopping mall signage that includes "Jo-Ann".