Tracking by GPS in China: Google vs Baidu Maps

A friend at Tongji University, Shanghai. Using his GPS coordinates of 31.2820193,121.5083353 he is at the red pin., but this time over 500m west north west of his Google location Baidu Maps.

A friend at Tongji University, Shanghai. Using his GPS coordinates of 31.2820193,121.5083353 he is at the red pin., but this time over 500m west north west of his Google location Baidu Maps.

A friend is visiting China and has graciously allowed me, through Google, to follow him. I provide location advice as i can read Baidu’s Chinese maps. This time I was able to use his GPS coordinates and track him on Google and Baidu Maps. Now you would think that two mapping systems would give you near identical results, but no, they do not.

Google allows you to share your location with specific people, allowing them to watch on a Google map, their location. With this permission I was able to find my friend’s GPS coordinates and the proper Google map.

A friend at Tongji University, Shanghai. Using his GPS coordinates of 31.2820193,121.5083353 he is at the red pin. Google Maps.

A friend at Tongji University, Shanghai. Using his GPS coordinates of 31.2820193,121.5083353 he is at the red pin. Google Maps.

A friend at Tongji University, Shanghai. Using his GPS coordinates of 31.2820193,121.5083353 he is at the red pin., but this time over 500m west north west of his Google location Baidu Maps.

A friend at Tongji University, Shanghai. Using his GPS coordinates of 31.2820193,121.5083353 he is at the red pin., but this time over 500m west north west of his Google location Baidu Maps.

Plugging in the same GPS coordinates of 31.2820193,121.5083353 into Baidu Maps, and his red pin was 500m east north east, and on the other side of a 6 lane major road! Now that’s travelling! This puts him in the Tongji University History Museum. From Google.cn the Tongji Guest House is 31.281277, 121.511121.

When you look closely at the differences between the maps it is clear that there are streets missing or changed, as are buildings and their orientation.

Conversely, when I selected a random location in Glendale, Los Angeles, California, with a GPS location of 34.136812,-118.263813, the maps were essentially identical.

A random Glendale, Los Angeles, California, USA GPS location of 34.136812,-118.263813, Google Maps

A random Glendale, Los Angeles, California, USA GPS location of 34.136812,-118.263813, Google Maps

A random Glendale, Los Angeles, California, USA GPS location of 34.136812,-118.263813, Baidu Maps

A random Glendale, Los Angeles, California, USA GPS location of 34.136812,-118.263813, Baidu Maps

Today my friend has moved to Wuhan. His location at the Future City Hotel, is just north of the Jiedao Kou 街道口 intersection, GPS location 30.5273,114.3475 from Google reading from his phone, but verified because he is staying there. From the results it looks like Open Street View is the winner, only 200m away. Checking with google.cn/maps, search feature broken, the actual GPS coordinates are 30.527419, 114.353292

Google: 500m west
Baidu: 1.2km south west
Open Street View: 200m south
MapQuest: 200m south
Bing: 600m west
Rand McNally: does not do maps for China

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan, Google Maps, Android

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan, Google Maps, Android

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. Google maps is 500m west.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. Google maps is 500m west.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. Baidu maps is 1.2km south west.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. Baidu maps is 1.2km south west.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. Open Street View  maps is 200m south.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. Open Street View maps is 200m south.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. MapQuest map, seems the same as Open Street View,  maps is 200m south west.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. MapQuest map, seems the same as Open Street View, maps is 200m south west.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. Bing maps is 600m west.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, at the Future City Hotel, Weilai Cheng Da Luguan. Bing maps is 600m west.

One strategy in using GPS location in China is to use the Google GPS to approximate the area, then ask the person their actual geographic location, and use Google.cn/maps to find their Chinese GPS coordinates. Google.cn does comply with Chinese laws and uses the GCJ-02. The Chinese GPS coordinates are good for Google and Bing maps, but not Baidu.

Chinese street maps out of alignment in Google Earth and Google Maps
Why You Can’t Trust GPS in China
Why is China messing with our GPS coordinates?

amap: but has no labels

Wuhan Day 2
Google GPS, from phone: 30.528000,114.348574
Google GPS, from actual map location: 30.524439,114.353266
These are 800m apart.

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from user physical location, from Google Maps 30.524439,114.353266

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from user physical location, from Google Maps 30.524439,114.353266

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from phone GPS and Google Maps, GPS 30.528000,114.348574, 800m from actual physical location

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from phone GPS and Google Maps, GPS 30.528000,114.348574, 800m from actual physical location

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from phone GPS and Google Maps, GPS 30.528000,114.348574, Baidu map is 1.2km ssw from actual physical location

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from phone GPS and Google Maps, GPS 30.528000,114.348574, Baidu map is 1.2km ssw from actual physical location

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from phone GPS and Google Maps, GPS 30.528000,114.348574, Open Street View map is the closest at 200m n from actual physical location

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from phone GPS and Google Maps, GPS 30.528000,114.348574, Open Street View map is the closest at 200m n from actual physical location

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from phone GPS and Google Maps, GPS 30.528000,114.348574, Bing map is 750m west from actual physical location

Jiedaokou, Wuhan, China, map location from phone GPS and Google Maps, GPS 30.528000,114.348574, Bing map is 750m west from actual physical location

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