Almost a billion people a month use the maps of the largest search engine in the world. Maps help you find the route, show the most interesting bicycle paths, inform about traffic jams and public transport. Recently, each person can create them himself. How did it all start and how does Google Maps it work?
How Google Maps works – introduction
Hundreds of years ago, maps showed seas and land, helping people to better understand the world around them. Their existence was necessary. Today, various types of maps are used by the military and children in geography lessons. The present ones are created for a world that is changing rapidly. When transferred to paper, they cannot evolve as fast as today’s reality, nor adapt to the changes on an ongoing basis. In such conditions, digital maps displayed on the screens of devices used by us every day work well. Using all the information available on the Internet, maps show not only the physical space, but also the social one. Let’s take a simple everyday example: Today is Friday morning, before you start your well-deserved weekend, you still have a business meeting in the city center. You wake up, check the map on your phone, which shows the route, taking into account traffic problems, weather conditions outside the window and, in addition, predicts how long it will take you to get there. Traffic is fluid and the sun is shining – so you stay in bed 20 minutes longer. By combining information from all the applications you use, such as calendar, email, and maps, you can get useful tips faster than you can think of them.
Now imagine that you are on your way to the meeting, but there was an accident on the road – something no one could have foreseen. All vehicles are stationary. Your smartphone or tablet is back in action: it extracts information about the obstacle on the road from the Internet, determines your current location and suggests the best detour – all this happens automatically. Importantly, you do not have to stop driving to look at the device screen every now and then, the directions can be read out loud. But before powerful satellite imagery and virtual maps could appear on portable devices, it took years of testing and perfecting.