For many of us, it’s easy to take addresses for granted. We order products online, and they show up at our doorstep. In an emergency, we give our address to an ambulance or fire truck, and they quickly get to us. But what happens when you don’t have an address and you need to direct someone to your current location?
More than 2 billion people on the planet—about 25 percent of us or more —either don’t have an address or have an address that isn’t easy to locate. To tackle this challenge, we launched Plus Codes in 2015. Plus Codes are simple, easy to use digital addresses derived from latitude and longitude coordinates. They can be used to uniquely identify any location, from a rural home out on a prairie to a small shop stall on a nameless street.
Today we’ve made it easier for anyone with an Android device to share their location using Plus Codes in Google Maps. People who use Google Maps might be familiar with the blue dot that represents their current location. Simply tap the blue dot to get a Plus Code for your current location that can be shared with others as easily as giving them a phone number.
Plus Codes: free, digital address for anywhere
A Plus Code is a simple alphanumeric code which can be combined with a locality (for example: FWM8+V9, Ibadan, Nigeria). They look like a regular address, but with a short code where a street name or number would be. Beyond using the blue dot, 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 location identifiers 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 the technology is easy and free to use, so anyone can see how the technology works and develop their own applications for any use case.
A helpful tool for emergency and crisis situations
Plus Codes can be especially helpful for people and organizations in emergency and crisis response scenarios. 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.
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.
Download the latest version of the Google Maps Android app over the coming weeks to try out the new update.