Interesting Facts and Stats about Google maps
If you've owned a smartphone in the past 15 years, chances are you've used Google Maps. For those unfamiliar, Google Maps is a digital mapping service developed by Google that utilizes satellite imagery and street-level cameras to create highly accurate maps of any area. This app is available on most smartphones and is essential to many people's daily lives. It provides accurate routes for various modes of transportation, such as cars, bikes, cycles, and even walking.
The main view of Google Maps is a satellite image of the area from a bird's eye perspective. Additionally, the app has a Street View feature, allowing users to view the location at street level as if they were physically present.
Google Maps is also available in API format for developers to use in their applications. Popular apps such as Uber, Ola, and Zomato utilize Google Maps to create maps in their apps.
Read further; we will highlight some of the most impressive facts about one of Google's most widely used services below.
Quick Google Maps facts
- Google Maps is known for its ability to quickly map out the best route when traveling from one point to another.
- In 2012, Google had over 7,100 employees working on Google Maps, with 6,000 of them being contractors.
- In 2017, Google Maps reached over 1 billion, monthly users.
- Since 2013, Google Maps has consistently been among the most popular apps and the most widely used navigation app.
- Google Maps has a small number of intentional inaccuracies to deter plagiarism.
- Over 5.9 million websites use Google Maps, which accounts for about 88% of all map usage on the internet.
How does Google Maps work (facts)?
Before we dive into the fun facts and figures about Google Maps, let's look at how it works and some statistics about its usage.
- Google Maps has collected an incredible 20 petabytes of data! With Google Maps covering almost the entire planet, it's no wonder they have to collect such vast data. That's 21 million gigabytes of information, enough to fill up over 328,000 iPhones!
- The data on Google Maps is usually 1-3 years old. If you're wondering why your house on Google Maps still shows your roof the way it was three years ago, it's because Google Maps are only updated every 1-3 years. But don't worry; Google collects data every two weeks and prioritizes updating areas that have changed significantly.
- Google doesn't own the satellites that provide the data for Maps. Satellite imaging can be tricky and expensive, so Google collects data from reliable sources instead of launching its satellites. They even tried to purchase a fleet of satellites from an imaging company but eventually sold the fleet.
- Street view images are also used as reCAPTCHA to help decode objects. CAPTCHA is a service provided by Google that websites can use to prevent bots from skewing their statistics. Google uses this service to improve the accuracy of their Artificial Intelligence that powers the classification and identification algorithm in Google Maps. Users can help by identifying wrongly classified images and sending them for review. How cool is that?
How does Google Maps work?
Google Maps is a game changer for anyone looking to explore new places, whether a tourist looking for an exciting adventure or a daily commuter looking to avoid traffic. But it's not just a helpful tool for getting around; it has some truly unique features that have impacted people's lives. Here are just a few examples of how Google Maps is doing good in the world:
- Governments can rely on Google Maps to keep sensitive information private. Google has a policy of cooperating with governments and removing any information requested to be kept confidential.
- Google Maps has the power to reunite families. Just ask Saroo Brierley, who used Google Earth to find his village in India and reconnect with his birth family after being separated and adopted by an Australian family. His incredible story was even made into a movie, Lion.
- Google Street View has covered more distance than a trip to the moon and back. With over 10 million miles of streets captured, Street View has traveled more than 41 times the distance from Earth to the moon.
- Google Maps is a virtual ticket to some of the world's most famous museums. With Google's Art Project, you can explore 156 museums around the world in Street View, including popular spots like The British Museum, The Museé d’Orsay, and the Pergamon Museum.
- Street View uses all kinds of vehicles to capture images, from cars to trolleys, tricycles, snowmobiles, and even handcarts. This allows Google to capture images from places cars can't go, like churches, college campuses, and even mountain tops.
- Google Maps can even give you a glimpse of the apocalypse. Carlos Labs has created a tool that allows you to drop a nuclear bomb on any location of your choice, using Google Earth, and see the devastating effects.
- Want to pull your prank on Google Maps? You can check when the Street View car will visit your city and plan accordingly. There are already many Easter eggs and pranks on Street View, like a group of men in pigeon masks and a mock murder scene.
- Privacy concerns are taken seriously on Google Maps, and anyone can request to have their house blurred in Street View by using the "report an issue" form on the Google Street View website.
- Google Maps has even been used for corporate pranks, like when Fiat pranked VW by having a Fiat 500 car follow the Street View car for 30 miles and then park in front of the VW building.
- Google Maps can also be used for scientific research, such as when archeologists used Google Earth to discover previously unknown underwater pyramids, a 1000-year-old fish trap, and even temporary islands.
- Google Earth also has a plugin that allows users to view the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, created using 3D modeling tools.
- Google Earth has a built-in flight simulator that allows users to control various airplanes using a joystick, mouse, or keyboard.
- Google Maps can even reveal historical secrets, like when Israeli engineers emblazoned the Star of David on the roof of Tehran's airport in 1938, which went unnoticed until it was spotted on Google Earth in 2010.
- The center of the Google Earth universe is located in the childhood bedroom of Brian McClendon, the creator of Google Earth, in a small house in Kansas, USA.
- Google Earth has even been used to discover natural wonders, such as the most significant natural bridge on the planet, known as the Fairy Bridge, found in Guangxi Province, China.
Downsides of Google Maps
As we have seen, Google Maps is an incredible tool that has changed how we navigate the world. However, it's not without its flaws and controversies.
- Google Maps tracks your every move, whether you like it or not: It may be a lifesaver for many, but it also raises privacy concerns. It's been revealed that Google Maps collects user data, even if you choose to opt out of sharing your location. They claim only to gather passive usage data, but that's not always the case.
- Google Maps tracks your every move on Android devices: One of the most valuable features of Google Maps is its real-time traffic data, but have you ever wondered how they gather that information? Google Maps tracks all Android devices on the road, using their location data to determine the speed of traffic.
- Google's technology helped put marijuana growers behind bars: Google Earth has been a valuable tool for law enforcement, and this was proven when the Swedish police discovered a 2-acre marijuana farm using the technology. A local resident spotted the farm and reported it to the police, and with Google's assistance, they were able to arrest the farmers.
- Google Maps once allowed you to shoot virtual pedestrians: In the early days of Google Earth, someone created a plugin that allowed users to enter street view and shoot virtual pedestrians with automatic rifles. The plugin was complete with sound effects and blood animations. It was quickly removed by Google but not before it received 3,000 visitors per minute.
- Google Maps has accidentally captured a murder scene: With Google Maps covering such a vast area of the world, it's not surprising that some gruesome scenes have been captured. One such instance was when a family in Richmond discovered that the murdered body of their 14-year-old son was on display in Google Street View. Google quickly removed the image.
- Google Maps has sparked border disputes: National borders are a sensitive issue for countries, and when Google Maps displays disputed territory as belonging to one country, it can cause tension between nations. This has happened in the past with territories such as Kashmir and The Hungyan Islands.
- Google Maps almost caused an international war: Border disputes can quickly escalate into misunderstanding and hostility. One instance was when Nicaraguan troops mistakenly invaded Costa Rica after using Google Maps to navigate the border. The incident almost escalated into a full-scale war.
Google Maps has revolutionized the way we navigate the world, providing us with accurate and detailed maps of any area, as well as real-time traffic data, street view images, and various other features that make it a necessary tool for anyone traveling by car, bike, or on foot.
From reuniting families and discovering ancient pyramids to helping governments and companies with their operations, Google Maps has been a game-changer for many. Its versatility and ease of use have made it a staple in the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Moreover, Google Maps has been used to create a variety of apps, including popular ones such as Uber, Ola, and Zomato. It's also available in API format for developers to use in their own applications.
However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows, as Google Maps has been known to record users’ positions even when they opt out, which raises concerns about privacy. Additionally, it has been involved in some border disputes, and even almost caused a war.
Overall, Google Maps is a powerful tool that has dramatically improved the way we navigate the world, and its popularity and usefulness will only continue to grow in the future.