Google maps have changed the way we travel forever. But, how?


Be it your daily commute plans, or an exciting trip to the city over the weekend, be it going out for a mountain trail, or just taking a road never traveled, we need this one thing and we need it all the time.

Yes, I am talking about Google maps. Google maps have genuinely changed the way we travel. For good. But have you ever wondered how Google tracks live traffic?

Let’s find out how!

Following with the introduction of Google Maps on 8th February, 2005.  Google Started showing interest in providing their customers live traffic update. And the world changed forever!

Google Traffic works by analyzing the GPS-determined locations transmitted to Google by a large number of mobile phone users. By calculating the speed of users along a length of road, Google is able to generate a live traffic map. Google processes the incoming raw data about mobile phone device locations, and then excludes anomalies such as a postal vehicle which makes frequent stops. When a threshold of users in a particular area is noted, the overlay along roads and highways on the Google map changes color.

Google has also assigned different colors for different traffic congestion levels, like red is for heavy traffic, yellow is for moderate traffic and green is for open road.

“When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions”.


In 2004, Google acquired ZipDash, a company specializing on real time traffic updates. in 2007, Google integrated ZipDash’s technology into Google Maps, offering live traffic data, based on information gathered anonymously from GPS sensors of users cellular phone.

“We understand that many people would be concerned about telling the world how fast their car was moving if they also had to tell the world where they were going”.


After tracking and analyzing the location data for a particular trip, Google permanently deletes it from its servers. Google also offers an Opt-out option, in which if a user is concerned about his privacy, he can stop his location tracking by Google Maps servers.

Below is a video on how to use Google Live Traffic:


There indeed is no going back to a pre-Google Maps era. We rely on them just way too much. And then there is google earth as well where the wandering souls like you and me are increasingly spending hours looking at places they have never been to. More about that soon, right here on Indian Jugni. 🙂

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