Google launches Plus Codes for Maps

Google has announced its Plus Codes feature is now available in Google Maps for Android.

A Plus Code is a digital address derived from latitude and longitude coordinates which mimics a street address for people who don’t have one.

The code appears as a simple alphanumeric code which can be combined with a locality (for example: 7656+5G, Pretoria, South Africa).

Google said the feature will make it easier to locate around two billion people across the world who don’t have an official living address or one which is hard to locate.

This could be particularly valuable  in a country like South Africa, where a large number of people live in informal settlements in rural areas without easily-definable locations.

“Plus Codes can be especially helpful for people and organisations in emergency and crisis response scenarios,” Google stated. It could also help mail services or couriers from online retailers find locations easily.

Google said the Plus Codes can be used to uniquely identify any location, from a rural home out in the veld to a spaza shop on a nameless street.

“Digital addressing through Plus Codes means that everywhere now has an easily identifiable location, saving time and getting resources there when it really matters,” the company said.

How to use Plus Codes

Plus Codes look like a regular address, but with a short code where a street name or number would be.

To share your location, simply tap the blue dot in Google Maps that represents your location, and get a Plus Code, which you can share the same way you would a phone number.

You can also find the Plus Code for a location by tapping and holding the map to drop a pin at a location you want a Plus Code for.

Plus Codes are searchable on Google Maps and even Google Search, meaning everywhere on the planet can now be uniquely identified.

“These digital addresses are free to use, available offline and can be printed on paper, posters and signs. The technology to generate Plus Codes is also open source, which means anyone can see how it works and develop their own applications for any use case,” Google stated.

“Not having an address should no longer be a barrier to easily sharing your location with service providers – from online retailers to emergency services – guiding them to you when you most need them,” Google concluded.

Now read: Google’s SMS replacement to get end-to-end encryption

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Google launches Plus Codes for Maps