How Google Maps will help companies boost business


Technology giant Google has announced a number of updates on its Google Maps service to help Kenyans make travel and shopping decisions faster. It is a move that holds the potential of boosting business for firms that will ride on the development.

One such update that Google is making is to integrate Live View into the app to help users navigate some of the trickiest indoorplaces such as airports, transit stations and malls.

That means if a business traveller is catching a plane or train, Live View will help him find the nearest elevator and escalators, gate, baggage claim, check-in counters, ticket office, washrooms and ATMs.

“Arrows and accompanying directions will point you the right way. And if you need to pick something up from the mall, use Live View to see what floor a store is on and how to get there so you can get in and out in a snap,”said Dane Glasgow, vice president of product at Google Maps told the Digital Business.

The add-on is bound to further boost businesses already relying on Google Maps which has revolutionised transport and logistics in Kenya, birthing a new sub-sector of food delivery through services like Uber Eats, Sendy and Glovo. The updates will also enable the app to make real-time recommendations on routes that consume lower fuel, enabling cab drivers save on costs.

“We are building a new routing model that optimises for lower fuel consumption based on factors like road incline and traffic congestion,” said Anita Yuen, director of product development at Google Maps.

And in an increasingly environmentally conscious space, Google has also factored in users concerned about their carbon footprint contribution. The updated Google Maps will advise motorists on the routes with the lowest carbon footprint.

In cases where the eco-friendly route could significantly delay estimated time of arrival, Google said it will let motorists compare the relative Carbon (IV) Oxide impact between routes so that they can make the choice.

With delivery and curbside pickup recording significantly high numbers during the pandemic as governments advise against making physical contacts, Google Maps promises to give users useful shopping information to stores, business profiles on Maps and Search, like delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees, and order minimums.

The tech giant will also be introducing a new directions interface that makes it easier to choose more sustainable options when on the go.

Users can expect a comprehensive view of all routes and transportation modes available to their destination, allowing them to compare how long it’ll take to get there by car, transit or bike without toggling between tabs.

“Using advanced machine learning models, Maps will automatically prioritise your preferred modes – and even boost modes that are popular in your city,” Mr Glasgow said.

Google’s Maps is now offering stiff competition to Apple’s Maps which have installed on every iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

While Apple Maps has seen significant improvements in terms of straight up navigation, improved visuals, real-time transit information, and in-door maps, Google Maps has the benefit of being integrated with the company’s Big Data from other services including the ability to do things like order food from restaurants directly in the app.

Google is also developing the next generation of its own Augmented Reality glasses, after Google Glass, but competition is also coming from Facebook, which is working on similar on-screen prompts as part of its Project Aria AR glasses experiment.

Google Maps Street View, launched back in 2007 has received public outcry over the years, over concerns that the service was a threat to privacy due to the pictures gathered, but Google told Digital Business that all data from its users will be anonymised and protected against third parties.

“We are working closely with governments to ensure compliance with existing data protection laws.”