Google Plus Codes: A Remarkable Advancement In Navigation

“To Travel is to Live” as quoted by famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, has now become true in its literal sense. Most of us must travel to different places within our country or across the globe to achieve our goals or live our dreams. As inevitable as it has become, travelling cannot be avoided but made easier to carry on. Travel plans and packages, organizer tool kits, airline miles and discounts and many other features do make travelling easy, fun and cost efficient but Google has topped it all by developing Google Plus Codes which makes navigation very simple.

Google Plus Codes, also known as, Open Location Code (OLC), is a system of converting an area anywhere on earth into geographic coordinates which can be used as a reference on Google maps to pinpoint any location on the planet. Developed at Google’s Zurich engineering office back in 2014, these codes are being released gradually as updates in all countries of the world. Although they are derived from the existing latitude and longitude coordinates, but they are much easier to utilize as they are designed to be used like street addresses, especially in places where there was no postal system established to identify streets and houses.

These codes are a combination of two elements that represents the address of a place. The first element includes 6 or 7 letters and numbers and the second element includes a town or a city example ” V75V+8Q Paris, France,” is the plus code for Eiffel Tower in France. Moreover, codes represent an area, not a point. As digits are added to a code, the area shrinks, so a long code is more precise than a short code. The codes generated are called plus codes, as their distinctive attribute is that they contain a “+” character.

How to use Google Plus Codes

Using these codes is very easy and finding a plus code for a place can be done in four simple steps:

1)    First open the Google Maps App on your device.

2)    Drop a pin at the desired location by touching and holding on the map.

3)    Next, tap the address or description at the bottom and scroll down to get the plus code.

4)    A small tap on the plus code copies it on the clipboard which can then be shared via any instant messaging app to others.

Now, if you have received this code from someone, you only need to copy and paste it in the search box at the top of google maps app.

Note: These codes can be generated on both Android and IOS devices.

Benefits of using Plus codes

These codes are not only useful to individuals for personal use but also act as an advantage to government and municipalities, emergency services and other small business as well. Google’s main aim in designing this technology was to produce codes than be used to identify buildings that aren’t numbered or streets that aren’t named. The main beneficial features are:

  1. It’s Free: Open Location Codes are an open source technology. Google has kept the use of this algorithm public without any licensing fees and can be used without restrictions.
  2. Offline accessibility: Using this technology doesn’t require the user to be online as there no data tables to lookup for and does not require a network connection.
  3. User Friendly: ‘Close by’, places have similar plus codes that make it easy to identify nearby places or to know whether you near to, or far away from your destination.
  4. Non-Exclusive: These codes can be printed as a grid on paper, posters and signs, which will assist in finding addresses which would help people without computer or smartphones.
  5. Territorial independency: Codes of areas not easily detectable and disputed areas that have not been mapped on Google, can also be obtained as they are derived from latitudes and longitudes.
  6. Easily Identifiable: The “+” symbol in plus codes are especially integrated, making sure Google search and Google Maps recognize them.

Who Can Use it?

On a personal level, these codes can be used greatly for individual use. Inviting friends, family and service providers to your home couldn’t get easier. While you are on vacation these codes can help you reach your destination thus saving time. You can also set up our own picnic spots and hangout places. Commercially, these codes can be used in:

  • Government and Municipalities. Every government wants to provide the best facilities to its citizens. These codes can certainly assist in voter registration for people without street addresses, Official communications and social services.
  • Emergency services. Help and aid can reach faster in a much more coordinated effort as communications and instructions related to location of a calamity would be clearly specified.
  • Humanitarian and disaster relief organisations. Medical assistance can reach to any part of the world beyond the urban boundaries.
  • Transportation, logistics and utility providers. Any unknown street can be provided services with regards to delivery of goods, relocation and provision of basic amenities like electricity and water.
  • Financial institutions. “Know your customer” policy has received a helping hand by google plus codes.
  • Small business. It would be hassle free for customers to find the location of a particular store without looking for landmarks or asking for directions along the way.

Finally, Google plus codes are not case sensitive and avoids similar looking characters and vowels. Google with its remarkable invention of the Plus codes has truly made the world a smaller place leaving no place on earth unmarked and to top it all, providing this technology at no cost for the benefit of both us and our dear planet Earth.

For obtaining Google plus codes of a particular place without using the Maps app, please visit the official website here. And for the open source code of Plus codes, please visit here.

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