This Is How Google Maps Works

Google Maps

There was a time when we had atlases, globes, or paper maps for researching a particular area. If we had to travel somewhere, we used to rely on the local people who would help us navigate. Now Google Maps works for the same purpose of navigation.

For travelers, Google Maps is a blessing in today’s world. Each and every person with an active Internet and a decent device can easily find out the locations accurately.

Google Maps is just a navigation service based on the Global Positioning System (GPS).
GPS was first made by the USA in 1973 for navigation and tracking of its military services. However, it was not very accurate at that time.

Earlier it was called NAVSTAR (Navigation System with Time And Ranging Global Positioning System). It merely used to track ships, aircraft, missiles, and other military-based services of the USA.

In 1995, GPS became available for common citizens of the USA after making the necessary changes. Now, GPS got much secure and accurate with positioning.

Many applications turned up that worked on GPS. In fact, many similar services came into existence like GPS (United States), GLONASS (Russian Federation), Galileo (European Union), Beidou (China), NAVIC (India), and QZSS (Japan).

Based on GPS, Google Maps was born in 2005.

How GPS Works?

For working accurately in harmony, GPS uses a constellation of 24 satellites that keep on revolving around the Earth.
The placement is in such a way that 6 orbits of period equal to 12 hours. Furthermore, the spacing is at 60° apart from each other.

To determine a particular location, GPS uses the triangulation method. This means that 3 satellites will work together to determine the exact location of an object.
Even if one of the satellites in the existing trio fails to fetch the location, the other satellite takes up the place.

After compiling the data of 3 satellites, we get the exact location. One more satellite is used which is required for removing the error as well as determining the height of the object.

This is how GPS points out your exact location.

Google Maps Works

How Does Google Maps Works

After a considerable amount of images from satellite and all the data from GPS, Google had a challenge of labeling the buildings, roads, monuments, sports, etc. So, how would Google label those blank map images obtained from satellites?

Several Governments and countries came together for this revolution. Google asked for permission to get the local data. After all, who would better provide the local data other than the local Governments?

Google gathered all the data and used all of it to create Google Maps. This is how the company got all the names of roads, important buildings, etc.

Some countries don’t get to use Google Maps because they denied providing the data.

Google Street View

Satellite images are fine but Google wanted even more precise details of every street and corner.

Now, Google started using Google cars for clicking the 360°

Google Street View

These cars started roaming in the streets of a country. They click all the images and stitch them together forming immensely detailed images of streets. Artificial intelligence particularly focuses on the signboards and important hoardings in the cities. In this way, users get a better and detailed experience of Google Maps in a seamless way.

Unfortunately, the Indian Government did not allow Google Street View because of privacy reasons.

Google Local Guides

Not only Government, but Google Local Guides is also a program where users contribute pictures, locations and various details to Google.

Furthermore, Google Local Guides get various perks from Google for their contribution. This is how Google keeps getting updated data.

Well, I am a Level 8 Local Guide.
*Wink Wink* 🙂

Now your next question might be that if important locations are provided by Governments and other details are provided by users then how does it know about the traffic updates?

How Does Google Maps Works For Live Traffic?

Google Maps shows you live traffic on roads by using the concept of crowd-funding. People themselves provide the data on traffic. Even you are one of the contributors. Surprised?

Whenever a large number of people are moving in a car and they all are using Google Maps, their GPS (location) is turned on. You don’t even need to use Google maps. If your location is enabled, your complete data is reaching to Google.

Now Google is smart enough. If so many people are going at the same speed, the road must be responsible for it. If all vehicles are moving slowly, there are chances of high traffic. Likewise, if the vehicles are moving with good speed, the road is absolutely clear.

To demonstrate this using an experiment, Simon Weckert carried 99 smartphones in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jams in Google Maps.

Result? Google Maps thought that 99 cars are moving slowly and ended up showing the red marking on the app. The fact was that the road was completely clear.

I would recommend you to watch this 2-minute video completely.

Of course, that was funny and Google even reacted to this video.

A Google spokesperson responded to this video, saying “Whether via car or cart or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps as it helps us make maps work better over time.”

The point is that Google Maps knows everything regarding live traffic updates. Now a new option of reporting an accident or obstacles have been added. Again, more data for Google.

Truecaller works on the same concept of crowdfunding.
Read | How Truecaller Works?

Summarizing How Google Maps Works –

  1. GPS technology and a cluster of satellites collect all the images and data from the space.
  2. Local Governments and users help to label the places and locations.
  3. The moving Android devices help share the data with Google to give an accurate status of traffic.

The last point is the reason why Google Maps is more accurate than Apple Maps.


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