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Residents of Florida Town Attempt to Prove Existence

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If a city can’t be found on Google Maps, does it still exist? Residents of Sunrise, Florida, were left pondering that question for about a month this summer.

Until Google fixed the problem this week, local searches for Sunrise, a city of 90,000 on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale, were turning up results in Sarasota, which lies about 200 miles northwest.

The people of Sunrise must feel Google has something against them, because this wasn’t the first time they’d fallen off the map; the city turned up missing in searches in August and October of last year, too. When the error cropped up a third time, the mayor, Mike Ryan, was cast into an existential despair:

"I said 'holy cow,'" he said. "It felt like a bizarre novel -- that all of a sudden we disappeared. We woke up one morning and we didn't exist in the ether world."

The incident goes to show how dependent we’ve become on Internet search to find local businesses and services. Evidently even in Florida, haven of America’s older folks, no one is willing to crack open a Yellow Pages anymore:

"My new customer Web orders is almost at zero," Sherry Tannozzini, owner of a local shop called Flowers from the Rainforest, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel before the problem was fixed.

"The revenues are down ... the people can't find us. They can't find the city mayor, they can't find the police department, they can't find a dentist, a plumber, a tire changer."

Which also raises the question: Does anyone actually use Bing or Yahoo for local searches? Apparently not in Sunrise.
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