Google has announced the availability of Plus Codes, a feature on Google Maps which allocates an address to any location that doesn't have an already defined address. Announced on 28 May 2020, it is hoped that previously difficult to find locations whether it be for emergencies or last-mile delivery will be easier to locate via Google Maps.
According to Google, during 2018 Cape Verde's postal services were the first to support plus codes for the delivery of mail across the country. This was along with India which also tested Plus Codes when they were initially launched.
Many countries across Africa have areas and locations that do not have an official address defined for them. This makes it difficult for them to be located by emergency services requested via a call or even for logistics companies that need to make various deliveries. Added to these, e-commerce companies also sometimes struggle with the delivery of goods to households that are difficult to find and have no official addresses.
"Plus codes give anyone in the world an address they can share, for free. Created by a group of engineers at Google, this technology has been open-sourced, meaning that anyone can see how it works and develop their own applications for any purpose; no license fees or other payments are required. For individuals and families, plus codes can be used like a street address when the street has no name or doesn’t even exist. They give every place in the world an address, so everyone can easily say where they live, where their business is located, or where a parcel should be sent."
A Plus Code is like a street address, allocated on Google Maps, for locations that don't have one. What is even more interesting is that a plus code can be allocated for a place even if there is no street where it is located.
A Plus Code is a four-character prefix that works as an "area code," defining a 100km^2 region; the remaining six characters of the plus code narrow the location down to 14m^2. Thereafter, and for added precision, a single additional character narrows the location to a 3m^2 region.
From a user perspective, they are easy to use. All that a person has to do to share their location is to click on a blue dot in Google Maps that represents the location where they are. Once clicked, a Plus Code is generated. From there you can share the Plus Code whichever way you choose to.
"With Plus Codes, not only can people share their location quickly even without an address, but they can now do so by simply opening up Google Maps and tapping on the blue dot to view, copy and share their Plus Code location. A Plus Code can then be entered into Google Maps to help locate and navigate to that location. Digital locations through Plus Codes means that everywhere now has an easily identifiable location, saving time and getting resources there when it really matters. Not having an address should no longer be a barrier to easily sharing your location with service providers, guiding them to you when you most need them," wrote David Martin, Director of Program Management, Google Maps.
To be able to use Plus Codes you will need to download the latest version of the Google Maps Android app.
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