Lost in London‾ Look for a pub or the tube

Getting lost in London is inevitable. According to new research commissioned by Nokia, the world's leading supplier of map-enabled devices, there are more people getting lost in London than anywhere else in the world, including cities like Bangkok and Beijing, which are nearly twice the size of London. 

The findings are part of a global study, one of the largest navigation studies to date, where 12 500 people in 13 countries world were quizzed about their sense of direction and navigational habits.

Research found that one in ten people (ten percent) find it impossible to navigate around London, followed closely by Paris (nine percent), Bangkok (five percent), Hong Kong (five percent) and Beijing (four percent), making up the top five 'lost cities' on the planet. Moreover, when lost in London be wary of asking the locals for directions, as one in three Londoners admit to deliberately giving people the wrong directions.

Digital navigation overtakes traditional maps

More than 25 percent of people surveyed rely on online and mobile navigation tools to find their way around. More specifically, 13 percent of people use a mobile phone as their primary navigation tool, from a zero base just a few years ago. The country with the world's best sense of direction is Germany, where a third of people claim to have never lost their way. Unsurprisingly, it is also the country with the highest reliance on satellite navigation. One in ten women admits to not being able to read a traditional map, twice the number of men. This suggests that the end of the traditional map and compass is fast approaching with map reading skills across the world generally considered poor.

A sense of direction

One in five people believe a sense of direction is genetic and those that have a bad sense of direction are simply born that way. However having a good sense of direction seems rare and despite huge advances in online maps and mobile navigation, almost everyone surveyed (93 percent) still get lost regularly, with the average person wasting 13 minutes each time they do. This has big implications for some, with one in ten missing a job interview, an important business meeting or flight because they lost their way. Getting lost is affecting people's personal lives as well, with one in ten Brazilians missing out on a date because they got lost en-route.

'More people are becoming comfortable with using navigation tools on their phones and in their cars, and are seeing direct benefits from using these devices in their everyday lives,' says Marita Markkula, head of Marketing for Nokia Maps. 'People can customize the navigation features in their phones according to the routes they take, and updating information is quicker and easier than with traditional maps. You can even set your navigation enabled mobile phone to avoid traffic jams and roadworks, which cause many people to go off course.'

Keeping up to date with the ever changing landscape

When approached by strangers asking for directions, many people use iconic landmarks such as statues, churches and bridges as recognizable 'breadcrumbs' to a destination. However, people in Britain prefer to use local pubs to signpost directions to others. In another reflection of city culture and make-up, the Chinese typically use skyscrapers to give directions.


'With cities growing so rapidly and new roads and buildings being built all the time, people are relying more on mobile navigation tools that are always with them. The development of turn by turn pedestrian navigation is a technology that should be embraced, as it helps people reach their destination easily,' continues Marita Markkula.

The Nokia Maps service, which combines the latest services with devices like the Nokia 6210 Navigator, are perfect for staying on track. People can reach their destination more effectively with turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation, high-sensitivity GPS and a combined integrated compass. Nokia Maps are the perfect travel companions at home or abroad.

Other research highlights:

- 30 percent of people blame their partners for getting lost, either because they were fighting or shouting directions at them

- Dependence on technology is now such that one in four people claim they could not find their way without online maps and mobile satellite navigation

- One in ten Spaniards consider a sense of direction matures with age, like fine wine

- Indian men are the most likely people in the world to miss the birth of their child

- Nearly a quarter of Italians rely on mobile navigation devices to find their way

- Half of the Chinese depend on personal interaction for directions en-route

- The most popular excuse for getting lost by Asians is bad weather

- Russians have an alternative motive when it comes to asking for directions, with one in ten using it as an excuse to flirt