Two years ago, Google open-sourced Plus Codes, a digital addressing system to help billions of people navigate to places that don’t have clear addresses. The company said today it is making it easier for anyone with an Android device to share its rendition of an address — a six-digit alphanumeric code.
Google Maps users on Android can now tap the blue dot that represents their current location to view and share their unique six-digit coordinate with friends. Anyone with the code can look it up on Google Maps or Google Search to get the precise location of the destination.
The codes look like this: G6G4+CJ Delhi, India. Google says it divides the geographical surface of the world into tiled areas and attributes a unique six-letter code and the name of the city and country to each of them.
More than 2 billion people on the planet either don’t have an address or have an address that isn’t easy to locate. This challenge is more prevalent in developed markets such as India where a street address could often be as long as a paragraph, and where people often rely on nearby landmarks to navigate their way.
Google is not the only firm that is attempting to simplify the addressing system. London-based what3words has broken the world into 57 trillion squares and assigned each of those blocks with three randomly combined words, such as toddler.geologist.animated that are easier to decipher and share. The company told TechCrunch earlier that it had partnered with a number of firms, including several carmakers, to expand its reach.
But what3words and five-year-old project Plus Codes have both struggled to gain wider traction. When Google announced this project in India, its executives told this correspondent that they were exploring ways to work with logistics firms and government agencies such as the postal department to get wider adoption — though none of it has materialized yet. At the time, the company had also tested Plus Codes at some concerts in India, the executives said.
To get wider adoption, Google open-sourced Plus Codes in 2018 so that developers and businesses could find their own use cases. “If you’ve ever been in an emergency, you know that being able to share your location for help to easily find you is critical. Yet in many places in the world, organizations struggle with this challenge on a daily basis,” the company said today.