Google Maps is a tool we all use regularly, but, how much do you really know about it? Here are 15 fun facts and tricks you most likely didn’t know about the mapping service!
Number One: Google Maps’ Accumulated Data
If you ever wondered how much data Google Maps has accumulated through years of satellite, aerial and street imagery, the answer is over 20 petabytes. That is about 20,500 terabytes.
Number Two: It’s Updated Very Regularly
Satellite images for the service are updated every two weeks, estimations say. Street view, on the other hand, doesn’t have a specific schedule and cannot be updated very often. Rural areas and areas where access is restricted can go years without getting an update.
Number Three: Google Maps Employs a Lot of People
In 2012 alone, 7,100 people were employed by Google Maps and its different branches (what is internally known as “Geo”.) That’s a thousand more than the number of people Radio City Music Hall can seat. 1,000 of them work at Google Maps full-time, while the remaining 6,000 work on a contractor basis. Maps is currently the largest division in Google.
Number Four: They Don’t Blur Every Face Manually
Google has a software that automatically detects and blurs every face and license plate on their images. Some faces or license plates might be left out in the process, in which case they get blurred out manually, if detected. Google Maps users caught by the Google Maps cameras can request having their face blurred out.
Number Five: Millions of Pictures
Since the project was launched in 2007, Google Street View has traveled over a million miles, taking tens of millions of pictures. The app draws a billion unique visitors every month.
Number Six: Reverse Google Maps
Google is now working on a new app which functions as a reverse Google Maps search. The user will upload a picture of a place and will get the exact location in which the image was taken. PlaNet compares the uploaded image with the ones on their database: over 91 million pictures taken worldwide, with a precise location attached to each one of them. “Despite the difficulty of the data, PlaNet is able to localize 3.6% of the images at street-level accuracy and 10.1% at city-level accuracy. 28.4% of the photos are correctly localized at country level and 48.0% at continent level.”
Number Seven: Dead Child Found on Google Maps
Google has captured many strange images over the years, but this might be the most gruesome so far. José Barrera contacted Google in 2013 and asked them to remove an image of his deceased son’s body he found on Google Maps. The 14-year-old kid was shot dead near a train track in 2009 and the image of his body surrounded by police officers was captured by the satellite.
Number Eight: Time Traveling with Google Maps
Google introduced a new feature into Google Maps in 2014 that allows users to ‘travel’ back in time. You can travel to different places and periods of time, although the new tool is not available for every location. Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!
Number Nine: Drawing on Google Maps
Stephen Lund, an eager cyclist from Canada, blends cycling and art with the help of Google Maps. Lund uses Google Maps to plan his routes and follows the exact directions on the road to create incredible GPS doodles. Last year alone, he drew 85 doodles on the streets of Victoria.
Number Ten: More Than Street View
In early 2015, Google announced they would be launching a new Google Maps tool that would allow users to go underwater. Some of the locations available on Google Oceans include the Bahamas and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Some underground locations can also be visited, and the sky as well!
Number Eleven: Google Maps Regularly Helps Solve Crimes
Google Maps is a very powerful crime-solving tool. Some crimes have been solvedthanks to the software. For example, Swiss cops discovered a weed plantation in Thurgau, while a Dutch kid stumbled upon a picture of himself about to be robbed of his bike, which led to the police capturing the thieves.
Number Twelve: Google Cultural Institute
Not a lot of people know you can walk inside the MET, the Louvre and the Prado museums without leaving your house or paying any fees. Google launched its Cultural Institute in 2011 and has been growing rapidly ever since. Hundreds of museums, galleries and exhibitions can be looked at from the comfort of your home.
Number Thirteen: A Forest Named After Google Maps
Google Forest, in Africa, owes its name to the mapping service after it was “discovered” by British scientis. These scientists, who worked for the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, were looking for potential unknown wildlife in the continent using the app. Its real name is Mount Mabu, and a few dozen new species where actually discovered there after the event.
Number Fourteen: You Could Track Every Google Maps Car
Back in 2011, Google released a Street View update that allowed users to track their drivers at all times. Probably due to a rise in ‘pranks’ that made it into the final images, the service was taken down. A humorous webpage was launched shortly after “to annoy Google,” urging citizens to write the exact location of the Google car if they ever stumble upon it.
Number Fifteen: Google Maps as an Archaeological Tool
Self-proclaimed “amateur satellite archaeologist” Angela Micol found some pyramid-like structures in Egypt while using Google Maps and Google Earth. The debate was on for a few months, with most scientist arguing that those are just natural rock formations, and many locals stating that those are real uncompleted pyramids actually cited in old maps and documents. We hope you enjoyed and found some interesting information about Google Maps!