Friday, September 29, 2023

“Traditional” addresses: Will GPS, Google Maps and Waze put an end to them?

The “a la tica” addresses, where the numbers and names of streets and avenues remain in the background and the colors of the houses, trees and descriptions of the streets and sidewalks take center stage, continue to be part of our identity as Costa Ricans, but how have digital platforms such as Waze and Google Maps or the use of georeferencing systems such as GPS changed them?

When we look for an address we usually ask someone to send us the “Waze dot” and it is not uncommon for food delivery or public transport providers to ask us our location to know where we are and theirs to be able to carry out work. However, when it comes to explaining where we live or work, the ethical strands come to the fore again.

Researcher and professor at the Atlantic Headquarters of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), Alexa Bolaños Carpio, dedicated herself to studying how these directions work in modern times. This was his doctoral thesis.

“This way of giving points of reference identifies us. This is how we build connections with our communities. Other address systems work in other parts of the world, with streets and avenues, but here we take specific places of cultural burden for communities and use them as reference points,” Bolaños said in an interview with UCR.

The study began with the way people in the United States provided addresses to emergency services. There he saw that they were very different from those in Costa Rica, so he analyzed 215 audios to find out what type of address was used during the call. The direction to Tica appeared.

Although we consider this our own, Bolaños noted that when he presented similar studies in other countries, there were always those who raised their hand and said that “something similar is used in their city.” People from Qatar, Bolivia and Bangladesh use a similar form to Costa Rica to give instructions in their communities, although this cannot be applied to the entire population, which is certainly the case in Costa Rica’s case.

Directions in the age of GPS and Waze

Technology has made it easier for us to get from one place to another, but also to give directions from one smartphone to another with a single “next” or to include that reference point in a phone application.

Although this practice has become ingrained in recent years, it will not completely replace our way of showing us the way when someone “stops” us on the street and asks how to get to a place we know.

Although this wasn’t the actual topic of his research, Bolaños has an idea of ​​the impact it can have.

“Platforms are allies. I actually think there is a change. People are using applications more, not just to give directions, but also to get somewhere in less time, because they tell us how to get around “dams.” The change is there at the moment, but we have to keep an overview to see how it develops,” he said in the interview.

For the researcher, all cultural change is slow and it will probably take a generation for technology to displace our traditional system.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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