Google Maps is basically a service that shows us maps of different places. It is developed by Google and offers street maps, 360-degree panoramic views of streets, real-time traffic conditions and the different routes available to your final destination by foot, vehicle and other available means.
Google Maps was launched in February 2005 and has ever since taken the mapping market by storm. After its release for phones in September 2008, it then went on to become the world’s most popular app for smartphones with over 54% of global smartphone owners using it at least once.
As most of the smartphone population uses Google Maps to navigate around unknown places, some of us often think that how exactly does Google make this work? How does it track the real-time traffic conditions? How does it know about the temporary speed limits, working hours of a business?
Starting with the basics, Google has teamed up with the most comprehensive and authoritative data sources to keep on improving the base map in Google Maps and Google Earth. Google teams up with different authoritative data sources such as USDA Forest Service, the U.S. National Park Service, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and many other such sources from each area.
Google then came up with the Google Map Maker in which Google crowd-sourced its Maps operations. It’s been around since 2008 and was discontinued on March 31st, 2001. What Map Maker did was that it allowed anyone and everyone to edit or add information on Google Maps. This proved to be very useful as places which are usually hard to reach were updated by the different people traveling there. However, the updated information by a user could also be reviewed by other users to make sure that the information was legit.
Google also allows you to contribute your knowledge by joining the Local Guides program. One can earn rewards and unlock exclusive badges and also gain early access to new products by joining this program.
Google Traffic is a feature in Google Maps that shows real-time traffic conditions around any selected place. It analyzes the GPS-determined locations transmitted to Google by a number of mobile phone users. It calculates the speed of users along a specific road to determine the traffic conditions there. Earlier versions of Google Maps provided traffic information to users based on historical traffic data which was not particularly accurate.
Google has stated: “we understand that many people would be concerned about telling the world how fast their car was moving if they also had to tell the world where they were going”. Google built a number of features to safeguard the identities and locations of users who choose to provide Google with traffic data. One can also opt-out to allow users not to share information about their location with Google. Google stated, “Once you disable or opt out of My Location, Maps will not continue to send radio information back to Google servers to determine your handset’s approximate location”.
While Google continues to steer clear of its competition in the maps arena, we can always expect some new and better improvements coming our way.