Once again, there has been a massive outage of Google maps (on Thursday, April 23) that caused widespread panic and confusion! Most noteworthy, this recent, sudden outage occurred about 4 PM Eastern time (1 PM Pacific) and the food delivery industry was left high and dry!
— Pulkit Aggarwal (@pulkit596) April 23, 2020
One observant twitter user, @dlifff commented, “#GoogleMaps API is partially down right now, affecting many apps esp. delivery services that use its SDK, causing mobile apps to crash all over the world.” and he was definitely correct!
This highlights a HUGE issue to businesses around the World though. What happens when you’re entire business model depends on an API from the likes of Google and then it crashes?? This is particularly scary for creators of mobile apps
For gig economy workers, most noteworthy, food delivery drivers from the likes of Doordash and SkiptheDishes, this meant all deliveries came to a grinding halt. Tweets all over shared how drivers were literally left holding the bag, unable to complete deliveries, and also, unable to get new delivery assignments, bringing their workday to a sudden halt – and yes, this means no $$ for drivers of for the companies involved. For restaurants that have been very hard hit during the CoronaVirus pandemic, this also meant a huge loss in business, particularly as many rely solely on delivery as their main source of revenue. Particularly interesting is the vast amount of workers and drivers from these companies who are sharing their stories anonymously on publications such as The Doe.
Of particular interest though was that once again, the topic of support for the drivers was a huge issue. It seems that when the apps crash and go down, both Doordash and Skipthe Dishes offer their drivers (they are technically contractors) no support at all. Discussion with a couple of drivers shared with us that the companies do not contact the drivers with any helpful information at all. There’s no alert of notification of service outage, no email, no push alerts, they don’t share any information at all with the drivers! Once driver informed us that he had been troubleshooting his phone and apps for 2 hours, thinking he was having some technical issue that prevented him from working. Then finally he realized that Google maps API was the issue!! Nice support from the food delivery companies!!
If this incident highlights anything to you at all it really brings home that if your business depends entirely on a third party app or API, you are very vulnerable. Additionally, if you are a gig worker for Doordash or SkiptheDishes, you receive no assistance, support or information from the companies to help you at all!!
Also, Google maintains an outage management resource for developers, See HERE
We’re currently experiencing issues with the DoorDash platform. Please know that we’re doing everything we can to resolve this as quickly as possible. Thanks for your patience—and for being a loyal DoorDash customer!”
— DoorDash Help (@DoorDash_Help) April 18, 2020