How Google Maps chooses the best routes for you


Ever wondered how you now know the almost exact time you reach your workplace? Of course, we all use Google maps even for the simplest of trips, be it across the town or to the next city. But, they can’t be right every time, can they? As it turns out, they can be.

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Google Maps

Google Maps is a web-mapping service which offers real-time imagery and live traffic conditions (including routes) by crowdsourcing. Whether you’re travelling by a vehicle or on foot, it gives you turn by turn directions to your destination.

When users share their location with Google Maps, what happens is that bits of information about your speed, location, etc. are shared anonymously with Google which then correlates and combines them with other users to give them a fairly accurate estimate and in turn, you, about the prevailing traffic conditions on your route.

Where this might not work?

This technology works splendidly in city limits or where more number of users will ensure more accurate data. However, imagine taking a road less travelled; fewer users, will portray a different picture owing to few data points translating to lesser traffic. In reality, this might be because the roads on that route are not that great and people avoid this shorter route for this inconvenience. Something similar that happened to me on a road trip to Aurangabad.

A recent trek to Lohagad made me realise that Google mostly suggests shorter routes. But it does not account for the traffic that you might encounter later on in the journey. For example, during this trek to Lohagad I found that there are two routes to the base of the fort. 

Though Google Maps suggest a route via Lonavala, it gets jam-packed during the weekends owing to heavy rush of weekends travelling there towards several picnic spots it hosts. 

Photo of How Google Maps chooses the best routes for you 2/3 by Abhijit
Route suggested by Google Maps

Do not, in this case, follow the Google maps suggestion. 

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A much faster, more scenic route

I suggest you get off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway ahead of Lonavala and drive straight towards Karla. The Karla road is much better, in terms of traffic and the view.

Although it is a small inconvenience at that, Google Maps is still a great offering by Google wherein the benefits far outweigh this little drawback.

Happy travelling!

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