Earlier, it was used to be looking something up on a map meant unfolding a huge piece of paper which you kept in your glove box and using the compass to find the directions.
But now, thanks to Google Maps. You can zoom in so far on nearly any street in the World. But this unprecedented level of detail didn’t happen overnight.
Google managed to get a foothold in the online mapping since back in the mid-2000s when it acquired Whereto Technologies. It had the idea to let people scroll around on a map without a refresh. A novel concept that helped to set up Google Maps.
Google Maps uses a lot of their technology to provide the users with the data. These technologies are mentioned below:
- Street View
- Satellite Data
How Google maps use Street View for data gathering
Google is first and foremost a data company. So, they often start by working directly with national and local government offices to determine not only exactly where every road is but how lanes are spaced and allocated on freeways to give an accurate base experience.
Unfortunately, most of the times, the government won’t or isn’t able to provide a completely accurate picture of how an area is laid out. So, this is where Google Street View comes in.
But there’s a hold, Street View isn’t just a way for users to virtually sightsee the area and lane. Google also uses Street View internally in order to double-check and tweak its existing mapping data.
As the Street View car takes photos of its surroundings, special AI can recognize any signs caught by the camera and send them to be analyzed by Google servers.
They determine not only Lane Placement and Traffic Restrictions but among other things even the proper addresses of Local Businesses. All of this information is then used to prevent maps from giving you bad directions.
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How Google Maps use Satellites for data gathering
Sending on the wrong routes by maps will be really bad, for example, on a one-way route.
Now, the another layer to Maps is Google’s access to a huge amount of satellite data partly from its acquisition of satellite imaging service Keyhole in 2004 and partly from government sources they use top-down views of street markers to further improve accuracy and they’ve even got to the point where they can use satellite imagery to extrapolate the shapes and footprints of buildings.
It does not only to give you 3d views in Google Earth which are super cool but also to enable you to see outlines of these buildings in the regular Maps view.
So, by intelligently combining data from all of these sources maps can construct quite an accurate picture of any given patch of land pretty well.
Read More: What does Google know about you?
How Google Maps are using General people for data gathering
But even Google can’t completely automate things yet. They also use human employees in a project called Atlas to make necessary adjustments. One of this team’s common tasks is to investigate user error reports and tweak routes on the map layer that clearly don’t match up with a recent satellite image or Street View capture.
This kind of user reporting reflects how crowdsourcing is another major piston in Google Maps engine and I’m not just talking about the photos you see on business listings either Google relies partially on volunteers to map areas because they may have limited data on something.
This kind of crowdsourcing is especially important in less developed countries where it’s harder for Google to send vehicles or get accurate mapping data from a government.
Of course, Google uses other tricks too to flesh out the experience. Once upon a time, they license databases from the yellow pages to dramatically expand how many businesses maps would show. But these days listings are pulled from other public sources and from business owners who are eager to take advantage of the visibility that Google Maps provides.
Owners of large facilities have even submitted floor plans and granted Google permission to do site surveys to help you find your way around.
This is particularly useful for sports arenas, shopping malls and airports and Google even works with a third party service that keeps track of gas prices by looking at credit card data and even getting direct data feeds from major gas station chains.
Finally, whether you realize you’ve signed up for it or not Google also uses you location services and the GPS on your phone helps Google understand:
- Where is it?
- How to get there?
- How many square feet of patio space is available?
- What times of day your favorite watering hole gets crowded?
They don’t show you the exact details but they probably know the demographic makeup of the clientele.
So, the real answer to how does Google Maps work is that Google simply has so many information gathering tentacles. These services help Google Maps to fetch some details while the other helps to fetch something else. By combing all these data, Google Maps comes with a final data on Map and they are evolving it day by day with more and more data.
Kudos to Google Maps for making the routes so easy!