All-Powerful Google Relocates South Florida City

Google has moved Sunrise, Florida to an icon near Sarasota

By Todd Wright
|  Wednesday, Oct 13, 2010  |  Updated 10:55 AM PDT
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Sunrise is home to the largest indoor outlet mall in the world and a professional hockey team.

But let Google maps tell it, the Broward County city doesn't exist.

A search of "Sunrise, Florida" on Google maps will take you to a small icon just south of Sarasota on the west coast of the state. Not quite accurate considering the real Sunrise is 205 miles south of Sarasota.

But the geniuses at Google will tell you, Sunrise is a brisk 20 minute drive from Sarasota, and that's not in a rocket ship.

No wonder Florida Panthers games are always so empty. All the fans are driving to Sarasota to see the team.

"We are a real city. If you can lose us, you have to wonder what's happening to smaller towns. You should not be losing us," Mayor Mike Ryan said. "I sent them a map and told them to call me if you need directions."

Ryan said he has been told by Google that they will fix the glitch sometime this week - for the third time.

Google acknowleged the error in a statement, although it appeared to shift the blame to the U.S. Government.

"We've built our map from a combination of authoritative sources, ranging from the U.S. Census Bureau to commercial data providers, and have used satellite, aerial and Street View imagery to help complete the map," the statement read. "Overall, this provides a very comprehensive map of the U.S., but we recognize that there may be occasional inaccuracies that could arise from any of those sources."

How a city with 100,000 residents magically moves to the West Coast without a presidential decree or at least a going away party is anyone's guess.

Sunrise will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, but in a day and age where virtually everyone gets their information about you online, search engines like Google dictate whether you live or die.

It's unclear how long Google has been giving the wrong directions, but city officials said they have been battling for an identity for about three years.

"We don’t exist and that’s a real problem," Sunrise Commissioner Donald Rosen said. "You can ask, you can beg, but it's up to Google to work with the city. We are at their mercy."

While tourists haven't had a problem finding their way to Sawgrass Mills Mall, other local businesses have suffered from losing customers who simply can't find them, officials said.

Companies looking to move their headquarters to get closer to business centers like Miami or Fort Lauderdale might find Sunrise attractive, if they knew it existed.

"I think it's a huge impact in this day and age where every dollar counts. Businesses are are losing money because when you search for a florist or a printer or a banker, Google takes you to Sarasota. So customers just move on to a neighboring city," said Liron Offir, chairman of the Sunrise Chamber of Commerce.

"It seems funny, but it's a serious issue. It's frustrating."

Officials are still talking with Google to fix the issue, which would seem like an easy correction considering the mega brains at the Internet juggernaut. Legal action might even be an option, officials said.

Maybe Sunrise could make a huge sign that read, "We Really Do Exist" that could be seen from space. Rosen said that solution isn't on the table yet.

"I want someone to recognize that I exist and right now I don't," he said.

Now if we could only get the right directions to Bank Atlantic Center to those wayward Panthers fans, everything would be forgiven.

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