Google uses AI to update outdated store hours on Google Maps

Google has explained how it uses artificial intelligence, including its Duplex restaurant calling technology, to try to keep business hours on Google Maps up to date. The company says if it’s confident enough in the AI’s prediction of a business’s opening hours, it will update the information in Maps.

In a blog post, Google describes the various factors that its AI analyzes to determine whether it should make these updates. First, it looks at the date the business profile was last updated, the hours of operation of other similar stores, and data from Popular Times to determine the likelihood that the hours are incorrect. For example: if Google sees that many people are visiting the store when it is supposed to be closed, this could be a red flag.

Google’s post says its AI will look at even more data if it determines the times need to be updated. It will take into account information from the business’s website and can even scrape street view images (which may show opening hours signs) to try to determine when the business is open. Google says it will also check with real humans, including Google Maps users and business owners, to verify AI predictions – the company says it will even use Duplex in some countries to ask companies directly for their hours.

Google spokeswoman Geneviève Park said The edge that Google “will only release hours of operation when we are satisfied that they are accurate.” If the AI ​​thinks the times may be incorrect but doesn’t have a solid prediction, it adds a notice that the times may have changed.

Google tries to alert users to potentially inaccurate information, although it cannot provide accurate information itself.
Image: Google

Park also said Google doesn’t explicitly tell users when times are updated by its AI, and explained that AI is used pretty much everywhere else in Google Maps. It seems that Google is rather optimistic about its AI-driven approach. In its post, the company says it’s “on track to update hours for more than 20 million businesses globally in the next six months.”

Google also says it’s piloting another use of AI in Maps to help keep speed limits up to date. In the United States, it will try to see if its partners have taken images of sections of road with speed limit signs and ask AI to help its operations team identify the sign and the speed limit. displayed there.

While it’s no surprise that Google uses AI for these problems, it’s interesting how many nested systems are involved. There’s computer vision, recognizing patterns in location trends, and analyzing data about similar locations (which, of course, also involves figuring out what the similar locations even are), all to try. quietly track how often companies change their hours and make sure he knows the speed limit on certain stretches of road.


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