Tracking Santa Thanks To Google And NORAD


Following the Call From Santa service, Google has announced the continuation of collaboration with NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), allowing its users to track Santa using Google Earth and Google Maps on NORAD’s website specialized for this occasion. NORAD’s tradition of tracking Santa Claus on his way around the world dates all the way back in 1955. when a Colorado Springs-based company Sears Roebuck & Co created an advertisement for children to call Santa, but misprinted the number, and instead of showing Santa’s number showed CONAD’s (NORAD’s predecessor). Everything would have been recorded as a mistake, and it would be quickly corrected, if there weren’t for Colonel Harry Shoup and his tremendous sense of humor. When he received the first call from a little boy asking about Santa, instead of hanging up the phone, he asked his assistants to check the radar for Santa’s coordinates, and so the tradition was born. Colonel Shoup later on received the title of NORAD’s first Santa tracker.


Colonel Harry Shoup, the original Santa Tracker /// the advertisement with the misprinted number

To hear the whole story take a look at “Lead Google Engineering Elf” Bruno Bowden’s talk on the topic at TEDActive:

 The tradition grew over the years, and today it is possible to track Santa Claus not only on NORAD Santa website, but on mobile phones as well. The specialized website is currently showing a timer counting down until the  opening of the service scheduled for Saturday, December 24, 2:00 a.m. EST. Here are the ways of tracking Santa that will become available tomorrow: 

  • Following Santa on Google Maps integrated into the NORAD Santa website. Users will also be able to watch “Santa Cam” videos from around the world, and see information about all the cities along the route under the “gift icons”
  • Watching Santa globetrotting in 3D using the Google Earth plug-in.
  • Tracking Santa on a mobile phone by searching for [santa] in the Google Maps mobile app.
  • Getting updates about Santa’s location throughout December 24 via social media (Google+, Twitter or Facebook).
  • Subscribing to NORAD Track Santa’s Youtube channel and watching Santa cam videos that will be uploaded immediately upon capturing.

Take a look at how Santa’s route looked like last year (captured in Google Earth) and decide whether you will follow him this year: