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Google Maps’ ‘Plus Codes’ Pinpoints Any Location, No Street Signs Needed

Users can use the full code for an area of just a few meters, or smaller parts of the code to represent larger regions around the location.

Google Maps will now let individuals and businesses pinpoint a location the size of a few beach blankets, whether it has an address or not, through the use of Open Location Code, or Plus Codes, the company said in a blog post.pasted image 0-1

For many of us living in more developed parts of the world, Google Maps has a robustly documented view of your local area. Every street is named and every address listed for easy searching and locating. For other places in the world, this is not so easy.

Google cites places like Kibera, Kenya and Kathmandu, Nepal as areas where exact addresses and street names are scarce, but people still need accurate location data for people to navigate. To combat this, now Google Maps every single point on Google Maps, anywhere in the world, will be assigned a code that can be easily shared for precise navigation. (You can find the code for your location at http://plus.codes.)

As an example, Google mentions The Adventure Crafts Glassmart, a merchant stall in Kibera that sells glassware. If this merchant wanted to advertise their location and didn’t have any sort of concrete address to work with, they could locate their store on a map, drop a pin, and be given a unique code that refers only to their location.

If the stall was situated among 25 others, the merchant could advertise the full code to give customers an exact, pinpoint location for their shop. Or if they were the only stall in the area, they could just advertise the last few digits to give customers a more general area to find them in and a simpler code to remember.

The codes can be as large as a region (100 km x 100 km) all the way down to an area just over 10 meters x 10 meters with a few subdivisions in between.Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 12.12.56 PM

Universal Tool

The benefits are not just for underdeveloped nations. Plus Codes could also be put to use at pop-up shops in a city, finding food or first aid at a large music festival, or even helping customers find one shelf in one aisle among many in a large department store. In-store navigation is a popular tool for proximity marketers and Plus Codes could provide a solution to stores that aren’t yet able to break into using more advanced technology like beacons.

In recent weeks, Google has already started to map interiors of certain buildings, especially large retailers like Home Depot and its Eddystone beacon project was just launched recently. Although Plus Codes have a wide variety of applications, they also represent another step forward for Google into the world of proximity marketing.

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.