How does Google know that this exact tiny restaurant on the 4th floor of a building full of other restaurants and cafes is “usually busy at 8pm on Wednesday”?

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How does Google know that this exact tiny restaurant on the 4th floor of a building full of other restaurants and cafes is “usually busy at 8pm on Wednesday”?

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16 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

They scrape web data and collect data from android devices with location services turned on.

Google knows the location of phones thus people, and when they start entering the resturant. And a modern GPS fix is 3d, so there is altitude information in there as well. If you take the location altitude and subtract the terrain altitude you can make an accurate enough calculation as to what floor someone is on.

You should definitely turn off location information collecting, or the service off completely when nit using it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because people tell it.

It often gives you the option to say how busy somewhere is after you’ve been there.

It also uses the data of people who used google maps to navigate there specifically rather than to one of the other restaurants

Anonymous 0 Comments

Yes to the answers here but also gps is a 3d reading it is taken from the centre of the earth and is accurate to about a 5m cube if I remember correctly.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Google’s business is information. Almost everyone uses it as their search engine and a huge proportion of people use android phones with GPS enabled and use google services to pay etc. It uses algorithms to work it out based on those kinds of factors.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you have Timeline enabled in Google Maps then you see it “guessing” which business you’re in as you move around. It’s pretty good, though does get it wrong fairly often too.

Yeah, google monetising, whatever. It’s just damn handy when you’re trying to figure when you were last in some place or how long it took you to get some place.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Everyone here is making a wild guess how googles doing it without 3D gps data; did anyone consider that google just got it wrong and is combining all the other restaurants traffic with their?

Anonymous 0 Comments

As others mentioned…location services on phones are aggregated so that these large companies can know where people are and when. It’s not considered private information, because they don’t care that YOU are there. The idea that dozens of phones are at a location at a certain time, regularly, is enough to figure out what is going on.

This can be creepy. I get it. This is the type of stuff that has privacy advocates up in arms. There isn’t necessarily a great answer, because there is value provided in this information. (Traffic jams, rerouting, accidents, etc).

If someone knows that your phone was somewhere, you have to trust that they don’t know it was you, and can’t tie that back to you. And yet, you then have people who want that tied back to them (for example, location tracking apps for runners). You then want to have conditions on who gets to see which type of data…and who you share that information with…and then you have to trust that they all are as ethical as the first company you trusted…and that they’ll never be compromised…which is silly.

The tech industry is in flux on this topic, and there’s no easy answer. A person may not care if their phone is added to a count of other phones at X location at Y time. That’s just +1 on an integer. They may care if that location is a strip club. They may care if someone is able to correlate their data to a specific time, every week, and be able to track your movements to know how often you go to that strip club. The moment you let people see certain data, there is a tremendous amount of data that can be extrapolated, and that can be difficult to control.

In another example, let’s say I give an app permission to track where I travel, but not where I stop. By extrapolation, you could find the places where I’m likely to be visiting. If I give an app permission only to track where I have appointments, but nothing else about me, it is possible to identify that person if given enough data. (Goes to places within X radius, visits this pharmacy, member of this club and this church, etc…look on Facebook and with photo metadata you could find the one person in pictures in that general area)

Again…it is creepy…but Pandoras box has already been opened and the public seems to like the benefit more than the risk…

Anonymous 0 Comments

if turned on, your phones location will automatically ping your location. google works off this. have you heard that story of a man carrying hundreds of cellphones, turned on location to each one, and walked across a bridge with a wagon full of phones and tricked google maps as if that bridge was heavily conjested with traffic? if you already dont know, your phone is sourcing data to more people/companies than you might think.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They can pinpoint your exact location without GPS by triangulating the strength of all the wi-fi networks reaching your phone.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A phone doesn’t just use GPS, but a process called assisted GPS.

Regular GPS triangulates your location by the time it takes the signal from multiple satellites to reach your phone. Assisted GPS also allows your location to be triangulated due to the time it takes signals from cell towers, wifi routers, and Bluetooth enabled devices to reach your phone. It knows the time it takes for a signal to get there because the packets coming from the signals are timestamped at very high precision and devices synchronize to a time service that uses an atomic clock.

This combination gives accurate locations in 3D even while indoors, assuming that there are enough signals that your phone picks up from the systems mentioned above. The less signals, the less accurate the triangulation.

Then once the location data goes back to google they can compare it to the information they have about the business’ location and get an approximation of when the most people are there.