Google Maps: new ‘Area Busyness’ feature helps you avoid crowded public spaces - how it works

A new Google Maps feature will help to avoid busy areas 

Google Maps has evolved to help with more than just navigation - recent features allow you to find out how busy an area is before going there.

The new “Area Busyness” feature on Google Maps reveals which area of your city is the busiest so you can plan your trip to avoid large crowds and traffic.

What is Area Busyness?

The orange ‘busyness’ icon appears once you zoom into the map and the scale reads around 2,000 feet or one kilometre. When it comes into view, it begins to pulse.

Tapping on the icon reveals information about the area, giving details about how busy it is at the current time and how many people are in the current area compared to the average day or hour.

The feature allows you to plan your days in advance, as you can scroll through each day of the week and see the average footfall in one area.

The information screen also offers how to get to the area by using your last mode of transport - but that can be changed by clicking directions and amending accordingly.

Another feature is “plus code”, a string of six or seven numbers with the city or town’s name. This code can be saved into the Map’s search box for future use.

How are crowd levels calculated?

Prior to the “area busyness” feature, Google Maps had a version of busyness information by tapping on the location you wanted to go.

This later evolved into indicators such as “usually busy as it gets” and “usually not too busy” under location names.

This information was gathered through a combination of live busyness trends from areas like stores, restaurants and cafes.

Google utilised data from those who opted in to Google Location History - which is off by default - and then can reveal popular times for the location if the business gets enough visits. This can’t be inputted manually and will only appear if Google has sufficient visit data for the location.

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