Google Maps: 15 Things You Didn’t Know (Part 1)



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! Stay tuned for part two, coming soon.

Number Fifteen: 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 Fourteen: 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 Thirteen: 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 Twelve: 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 Eleven: 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 Ten: 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 Nine: 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!

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