Use Google Maps to learn when certain areas – like a neighbourhood or set of streets – are busier than usual. You can use this information to avoid or explore busy areas.
When will I see busy areas?
When you open the app, Google Maps highlights when an area is near its busiest. Tapping on the 'Busy area' label will bring up a chart that shows how busy the area is at different times of day, along with a directory of restaurants, shops and recreational places (like a museum) within it. You may have to zoom in on an area to find busyness information.
How we calculate area busyness
We combine live busyness trends from places in an area, like shops, restaurants, parks, cafes and more to determine its overall busyness level. These trends indicate how busy an area typically is – and when it’s near or at its busiest we highlight it as a 'Busy Area' on Google Maps. To protect our users’ privacy, our systems don’t calculate busyness information for residential places like a house or apartment.
To determine popular times, waiting times and visit duration, Google uses aggregated and anonymised data from users who have opted in to Google Location History, which is off by default. Popular times, waiting times and visit duration are shown for the business if it gets enough visits from these users. You can’t manually add this information to your location, and it appears only if Google has sufficient visit data for the business.
We use differential privacy, which ensures that busyness data can’t be used to identify you. And if our systems don’t have enough information to provide an accurate, anonymous busyness recommendation, we don’t publish it – which is why there are times when you may not see busyness information for an area at all.
How we define an area
Google Maps already displays 'areas of interest' on the map – commercial areas that are known to have a high concentration of activities and things to do. To calculate area busyness, we combine live busyness trends from places like shops, restaurants, parks, cafes and more to determine the overall busyness level for that area. When the area is near or at its busiest, we highlight it as a 'Busy area' on Google Maps.
We have a number of protective measures in place to help keep communities safe, including:
- Area busyness never reveals the exact location of an individual. We use an advanced technique called differential privacy to ensure that all data remains anonymous, safe and private.
- We never display the total number of people in an area. Instead, we only highlight an area when it's busy compared to its own recent busyness levels.
- We display busyness for an entire, predefined 'area of interest'. These areas never display exactly where a crowd is within it.
- Beyond that, we don't calculate busyness data for residential places like a house or an apartment.