Google Joins NORAD In The Santa-Tracking Game
December 23, 2012

Santa Tracker Unveiled By Google After Getting Dumped By NORAD

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

When it comes to monitoring Santa's progress this Christmas, NORAD won't be the only game in town. Google has also decided to get into the act and will be tracking the legendary, plump, jolly old man with the white beard as he flies around the world, spreading holiday cheer and giving gifts to all the good little boys and girls.

As previously reported here at, NORAD, who has been keeping tabs on the big guy with their Santa tracker for more than five decades, had been using Google's mapping data ever since they first moved their operations online in 2004.

This year, however, the two parties decided to go their separate ways, and NORAD opted instead to partner with Bing in order to display the current location of Jolly Old Saint Nick.

"NORAD and Google have decided to go their separate ways and pursue other opportunities. It was a mutually agreed upon decision that transpired earlier this year," spokesman Michael Kucharek told ABC News earlier this month. "There´s a lot of generations now who get in front of the computer with grandma and grandpa and follow Santa. We´re sort of moving with the times and the technology and expanding the program."

Not content to just say "Bah, humbug!" and let NORAD have all the fun, Google has unveiled their own Santa Tracker.

The Mountain View, California based company's holiday present-delivering monitoring page "is loaded with goodies for good girls and boys," says David Altavilla of HotHardware.

He adds that starting on Christmas Eve, "you can track the big guy's progress on Google Earth and follow jolly ol' Saint Nick in stunning 3D detail. There's a Google Android Santa Tracker app of course as well, if you're still on the road picking up those last minute gifts. Just don't check in behind the wheel because that's an instant naughty point too. Got it? Good."

NORAD will offer a 2D tracking display powered by Bing, as well as a 3D display following the sleigh and the eight tiny reindeer created by Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) using the Cesium open-source virtual globe and map engine, according to the Los Angeles Times' Deborah Netburn.

They, too, will offer an app available for download on Android, iOS, and Windows-based devices, and the non-computer savvy can also call (877) HI-NORAD to speak with volunteers between the hours of 2am Pacific time on Christmas Eve and 2am Pacific time on December 25, she added. Google, meanwhile, has a way to request a personal phone call from Santa for the kids (or kids at heart) in your life.

The Santa-tracking tradition, Netburn explains, dates back to 1955, when NORAD director of operations Col. Harry Shoup began receiving phone calls from children attempting to get in touch with Santa. As it turns out, the local branch of a department store chain had created a phone line for boys and girls to get in touch with the Christmas icon himself -- but had tragically misprinted the phone number in their catalog.

As a result, Shoup began receiving the calls. "The colonel, whose organization monitors the skies for dangerous objects, was a good sport about the mistake," the Times reporter said. "He had his staff check the radar to see if they could pinpoint Santa's position“¦ A tradition was born. More than 55 years later, NORAD still tracks Santa."