Let’s be clear up front: A GPS is no home wrecker. That said, there’s a stunning report this week that a house in Carroll County, Georgia, was demolished by a wrecking crew misguided by a GPS device, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In a report by WSBTV, homeowner Al Byrd relayed a conversation with the wrecking crew in which they indicated that the GPS coordinates led them to that address and the house matched the description they had. A terrible mistake resulted in a house that Byrd’s father built himself in 1950 and still held family heirlooms being completely leveled. (Photo here is merely representative.)
Specifics are still being sorted out, but there are certainly lessons to be learned here. Most obvious being the importance of double-checking your paperwork before knocking down a house. Like, does the house number match? Correct color? Is it full of furniture?
But the real takeaway is the reminder that as miraculous as GPS devices may be, their accuracy isn’t pinpoint -- as any geocacher will tell you. Some of us also bring old-fashioned maps (you know, the ones made out of paper) to get a broad view of where we are or where we’re going.
For hiking handhelds (see our handheld GPS buying advice and ratings), the ability for the device to get you within 20-30 feet of coordinates adds to the challenge for finding geocaches – treasure boxes hidden and logged on geocaching.com for others to find. (See our hiking GPS video.) There are times, admittedly, when more accuracy would be welcomed, but that is reserved for military applications.
In practice, portable GPS navigators prove accurate enough. When a car is moving at 35, 45, 55, or more mph, a 20-30 foot margin of error is negligible. And ultimately, most car-bound destinations have an address prominently displayed for easy confirmation as presumably did this 2,200-sq-ft Georgia home at 11 Byrd Rd. (Can’t tell from photos.) Notably, the street was named for this family.
As anyone who has heard a computerized voice utter “You have arrived” knows, portable GPS devices will get you close. Very close. The last few feet are up to you.