Google Maps mobile navigation screen capture A lawsuit has been recently filed against Google Maps for allegedly providing “unsafe directions” for a pedestrian here in Park City, Utah back in January of 2009. There are a lot of people labeling this a frivolous lawsuit, see the comments on a Mashable post about the suit, but it makes me wonder if this case demonstrates potential issues in posting real-time information online, in particular via a mobile app, perhaps even using an augmented reality, style map.

There is some history to this kind of issue…I found this CNET article from over two years ago describing a case in which a driver was in a rental car, followed the GPS direction from that car too closely and managed to get the vehicle stuck on some train tracks which was then hit by a train – thankfully the driver was smart enough to have gotten out of the vehicle! This isn’t a US issue either as this Computer World article from a few years ago demonstrates (I love the part about signs being posted that say ‘Ignore your SatNav’).

As mobile and geolocation services become more and more prevalent, are there lessons that businesses need to take from this as they design apps and tools for their customers? I hope it’s just that we need to design for the end user, to build apps that add value and are useful, but do we need to keep other things at the forefront as well?

Photo credit: Flickr user arrayexception per CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic