Null Island. Place For Your Lost Data

Posted by TotalDC

Every day, a lot of people looking for digital directions on their computers and smartphones are diverted to an isolated spot on the Atlantic Ocean, more than 1000 kilometers off the coast of Africa, where the Prime Meridian and the equator intersect. It’s called Null Island.

Null Island is an imaginary island located at 0°N 0°E in the South Atlantic Ocean. This point is where the equator meets the prime meridian. The exact origins of “Null Island” are unknown, but it did reach a wide audience in 2011 when it was drawn into Natural Earth, a public domain map dataset developed by volunteer cartographers and GIS analysts. Null Island’s purpose was to help analysts to flag errors in a process known as “geocoding.”

What is geocoding you may be asking? Geocoding is a function performed in a GIS that involves taking data and converting it into geographic coordinates, which can then be easily mapped. But here comes human typos or wrong data, or even glitches and then geocoding process doesn’t always run as it suppose to. For example if there happens to be misspelled street names or non-existent building numbers, and other errors can create invalid addresses that can confuse a geocoder and it assigns 0°N 0° coordinates. And even while we know that this is an error, but for systems such as Google Maps this is a valid and actually default location where thousands of searches with errors goes since those coordinates actually exist. And that’s how we end up on null island.

Today there is a whole background behind this island, this place even has its own flag when really there where there is only a buoy floating in the middle of the water.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: