[LINK] Google's 'Plus Codes' for Locations

Michael mike at bystander.net
Thu Apr 5 09:07:17 AEST 2018

The NBN generated its own set of Location identifiers (Loc ID) as an early
output of their project.
They were based on premises, and have weaknesses in multi-story and mixed
use buildings, quite apart from how they handle poorly constructed
geographical addresses.
In my job we routinely have to juggle NBN Loc ID, Telstra sites addresses,
GPS co-ordinates and vague descriptions from Google Maps satellite imagery
(e.g. the comms shed is about 50 metres west of the tower).
A common standard would be an improvement, but needs to consider the
complexities that occur in the real world if it is to be useful (e.g. entry
at rear, or "on the first floor") to avoid ambiguity. I wonder why a 3mx3m
maximum granularity was selected when the benefits of finer detail would
seem to outweigh the marginally increased complexity.

Michael Skeggs

On 4 April 2018 at 12:26, Robert Brockway <robert at timetraveller.org> wrote:

> Canada has been doing something like that with a 6 digit code for a long
> time.  UK too I think.  The US now has a 9 digit zip code (Zip+4) which
> allows for very fine grained delivery.
> A Canadian Postcode will get you down to a few houses or a group of
> townhouses/units.  It wouldn't have to go far to make it address unique.
> Cheers,
> Rob
> On Wed, 4 Apr 2018, Roger Clarke wrote:
> [Below is an article on Google's 'Plus Codes' scheme for locations:
>> https://plus.codes/
>> https://plus.codes/howitworks
>> [As seems to be the norm these days, the documentation is wafer-thin,
>> and there's no indication of the extent to which it's purely
>> proprietary, proprietary based on international standards, or is being
>> proposed as an alternative open international standard.
>> [The article does say that "Google has open-sourced the underlying
>> technology", but that begs the question of the spec for the code itself,
>> and how it differs from, and maps to, the many different
>> geographic/lat-long and cadastral representations.
>> [Given that the pages refer only to an app, it appears it may be
>> targeted solely at handhelds (plus of course near-future desktops and
>> laptops reduced to appliances).  Codes can, however, be discovered on a
>> desktop or laptop from https://plus.codes/map/ ]
>> Why Google wants to change your address
>> New system pinpoints any location on earth with 11 characters.
>> David Braue
>> Information Age
>> Apr 03 2018 11:36 AM
>> https://ia.acs.org.au/article/2018/why-google-wants-to-chang
>> e-your-address.html
>> If you live in an urban area, you probably take the use of addresses for
>> granted: odd numbers on one side, evens on the other, unit numbers where
>> necessary.
>> But in rural spaces and less well-demarcated urban areas, vague or
>> inaccurate addresses can be a major problem - which is why Google is
>> hoping a new addressing system will become a ubiquitous online index to
>> the physical world.
>> Google's Plus Codes system foregoes conventional street-based addresses
>> and breaks the world's surface into a grid, on which locations can be
>> described using a short sequence of alphanumeric codes.
>> Under the new system, locations are described using a four-character
>> local code, the + symbol, and one or more additional characters
>> depending on the level of accuracy required. A Plus Code exists within
>> the confines of a particular city, which can be described using its name
>> or using an additional four-character area code.
>> For example, Google's interactive Plus Codes mapping site reveals that
>> the code for Parliament House within the Canberra region area code
>> (4RPF) is M4RF+PQ. However, zooming in for a higher-accuracy reading
>> allows an address to pinpoint, for example, the Parliamentary Library at
>> M4RF+F9M, or the Parliament Shop at M4VG+239.
>> Area codes define a 100km2 region, while six-character codes are
>> accurate to 14m2 and the optional eleventh character increases accuracy
>> to 3m2.
>> Google has already rolled out the identifier within Google Maps and
>> Google Search, where typing "M4VG+239, Canberra" will bring you straight
>> back to the Parliament Shop. You can also prepend Canberra's area code
>> (4RPF) to provide a complete, standalone Plus Code address - 4RPFM4VG
>> +239 - that will be mapped back to conventional street addresses and
>> longitude/latitude coordinates. Addresses can also be embedded within
>> URLs, as with https://plus.codes/4RPFM4VG+239.
>> Because the system uses a consistent global grid, nearby locations have
>> similar codes. It also operates independently of political boundaries,
>> avoiding complexities and regional idiosyncrasies in addressing schemes.
>> Saving lives, and finding them
>> It may seem redundant in countries that are well accustomed to
>> established street address systems, but residents of many countries have
>> no such luxury.
>> Google has pointed to the lack of consistent addressing in high-density
>> slums, for example, as a built-in use case for Plus Codes. They could be
>> used to provide a sense of place for refugees in teeming camps; to guide
>> people in crowded Indian cities where just 30 percent of addresses
>> reference a specific location; or in smartphone apps that would allow
>> lost hikers to convey their exact location to rescue services.
>> Emergency services responders regularly struggle with inconsistent
>> street numbering systems or vague locations that waste critical minutes
>> as ambulances cruise streets. One recent Queensland University of
>> Technology study of address accuracy noted that such delays have been
>> blamed for seven deaths in Queensland alone, and regularly result in
>> everything from "minor inconveniences to avoidable fatal tragedies".
>> Inaccurate address information raises commercial issues as well. For
>> example, errors and inconsistencies in Australia's centralised G-NAF
>> (Geodetic National Address File), which is used as a baseline by all
>> manner of geospatial services, caused major slowdowns and promulgated
>> errors in the early planning and rollout of the National Broadband
>> Network (NBN).
>> The system could also help improve the accuracy of conventional package
>> and mail delivery - which struggles with the free-form nature of
>> conventional addresses - by reducing every point on earth down to a
>> fixed-length series of characters.
>> Such addresses could be easily and consistently stored in
>> package-tracking systems, and used to avoid ambiguities around addresses
>> that are missing, inaccurate, obsolete, or use non-standard numbering
>> systems. This could reduce the cost of package handling, redeliveries,
>> customer complaint handling, and other side-effects of misdeliveries.
>> Plus Codes aren't the only system to try applying an alphanumeric code
>> to real-world addressing - regional efforts like India's eLoc and Zippr,
>> among others, have developed their own schemes - but Google's heft could
>> help its system stand out. In November, for example, it was adopted as a
>> digital-addressing standard by the government of Ghana as it works to
>> formalise its economy.
>> To promote real-world applications for Plus Codes, Google has
>> open-sourced the underlying technology and does not charge any costs for
>> use of the codes.
>> More information can be found here, or use Google's Plus Codes map to
>> find out your own Plus Code address.
>> _______________________________________________
> Link mailing list
> Link at mailman.anu.edu.au
> http://mailman.anu.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/link

More information about the Link mailing list