Wednesday, August 12, 2015
The Adventure Crafts Glassmart in Kibera, Kenya, has the address: Stall No. 164, Makina Stalls, Kibera Drive, Located close to the Toi Market. There is no traditional address system in Kibera, so no easy number-and-street identifier. Nothing easy to plug into your phone. So, say you wanted to visit the shop: How would you go about finding it?
Last April we released a new system to help provide an address for every location in the world, called Open Location Code (OLC, also known as “plus codes”). Today, plus codes are now searchable on Google and Google Maps. Plus codes are a useful way of representing locations that don’t have specific street addresses. But it’s not just in less developed places like Kibera. For example, an area the size of a few beach blankets on Atlantic Beach would have the plus code 87G8H7P8+FH. If you’re hoping to tell some friends where to meet you on the beach -- and they are near Atlantic Beach or looking up the specific location in Google Maps while zooming in over it -- you can give them just the last four digits “P8+FH” to help them find you. You can find the plus code for your location at http://plus.codes.
Using plus codes to locate friends at the beach is one example, but these codes become extremely helpful in places with high population density but poor data accuracy or coverage, or those that lack a specific addressing system altogether. Kathmandu, Nepal, has a population of around 1 million people, but most roads have no names and houses have no street numbers. Being able to precisely navigate without local knowledge is difficult. Plus codes will now let you easily specify your destination.
7MV7P8R9+W2, or P8R9+W2 if you or your viewport are already in Kathmandu.
These codes can help many different people, in many parts of the world: Small businesses rely on customers being able to find them. Crisis response organizations rely on accurate location information--often long distances from established roads and buildings--to provide aid and save lives.
As we continue to make Maps as accurate and comprehensive as possible, we hope plus codes become a useful way to pinpoint the places that might be harder to find -- whether you’re looking for your friends’ beach towels, or some glassware in Kenya.