Nobody wants to get stuck in traffic or in a crowd on the go. A new Google Maps feature is helping us avoid busy areas – here is everything you need to know
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Google Maps has evolved over the years into much more than just a tool for easy navigation. One of the latest features is to find out how busy an area is before you head there.
Getting stuck in busy traffic or crowds is inconvenient at any time, but it can also be quite scary during a pandemic.
The new Area Busyness feature in Google Maps helps solve this problem by highlighting when an area in your neighborhood or part of your city is busiest so you can plan your trip to avoid the crowds . How to use the function.
What is Area Busyness and How is it Used?
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The busy icon appears when you zoom in on an area on the map when the scale is approximately 2,000 feet, or one kilometer. When the area becomes visible, the orange occupied area icon will begin pulsing.
Tapping the icon will allow you to view information about the area including a bar graph showing how busy it is now and a note about how the current number of people is compared to the average day and hour.
The feature allows you to scroll through each day of the week to see typical visitor numbers, which means you can plan your trips in advance when the visitor numbers are lower.
This information screen also provides directions to the area in question. Maps automatically saves your last mode of transport, but you can also tap Directions to change it.
Another element is the “plus code” function, a string of six or seven numbers or letters with the place name. You can save this code and copy it into the search field of the Maps app to find and navigate to a specific location again.
How is the utilization of an area calculated?
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While the “Area Busyness” function is relatively new, the information on occupancy has been part of Google Maps since 2016. You can find the information by simply tapping a specific location on the maps.
Google Maps later also introduced indicators like “Usually as busy as it gets” and “Usually not too busy” under location names.
This information was based on a combination of live employment trends from locations in an area, such as shops, restaurants, parks, cafes, and more, to determine overall employment levels.
Google used data from users who signed up for Google Location History, which is disabled by default. Details like popular times, waiting times and visit duration are shown to the company when it receives enough visits from these users. However, this cannot be added to your location manually and will only appear if Google has sufficient visit data for the company.