NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been tracking Santa’s whereabouts since 1955 when a Sear’s department store ad mistakenly printed the phone number to NORAD’s headquarters as a hotline to find Santa. The military organization took up the call, and has been following through on the tradition ever since.
Google launched its first Santa Tracker in 2004 using Google Earth. In 2007, Google partnered with NORAD to track Santa, but then in 2012, Google went back to tracking Santa on its own and NORAD partnered with Microsoft.
Google is continuing its tradition of following Santa and his reindeer around the world this year, offering a number of ways to track where he is at any given moment.
There is the desktop tracker that shows Santa’s path via Google Maps. You can also download the Chrome extension for Google’s Santa Tracker, or the Android app.
In addition to tracking Santa’s whereabouts, Google displays approximately how long before he makes his way to your stop, and provides a “Live Feed” with animated updates from Santa and his elves.
NORAD’s 2017 Santa Tracker
NORAD’s Santa Tracker appears to be using both Bing Maps and Cesium mapping technology that lets viewers follow Santa’s journey in either 2D or 3D mapping images. There are photos of locations Santa has already visited along the bottom of the map that link to Wikipedia pages for each of the locales.
NORAD has also created quick videos of Santa’s stops so far, a list most likely to grow as Santa gains more ground.
NORAD will also send you Santa’s location if you email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s an automatic response I received after sending an email with a subject line “where’s Santa” earlier today:
Also, much to my surprise, NORAD’s hotline number — (877) 446-6723 — has a live operator who will tell you exactly where Santa is at the time of your call, and where he’s headed next.
Whether or not you’re following Santa’s trek around the world tonight, Search Engine Land hopes you and your family are enjoying your holidays and wishes you a happy New Year in the week to come!