Google Maps for Surveillance Planning

Use Google Maps to Plan Surveillance Projects
Learn how to use Google Maps to plan surveillance projects

Modern private investigators take advantage of the latest technology and tools to make their job easier and more efficient. Google Maps is a great tool that private investigators can use to help plan surveillance projects, scout locations, and plot travel routes. If you’re interested in learning how to use Google Maps to plan surveillance projects, read on.

Use Google Maps to Plan Surveillance

Prior to conducting surveillance, it is wise for investigators to become familiar with the area they will be working in. Investigators need to know such things as the specific address and location on the map, the location of cross streets, and the layout of neighboring buildings and homes in the area. In addition, a private investigator needs to know what obstructions may cause problems such as fences, trees, etc. that may block the view. It’s hard to get pictures or videos if you can’t see your subject. In some cases, you can even view indoor imagery.

Although there are a number of mapping websites and apps available for the job, we recommend Google Maps for private investigators. The app provides comprehensive and accurate maps in more than 220 countries and territories. In addition, it provides detailed information on more than 100 million places, including the street view and indoor imagery for restaurants, museums, and more. With features like these, private eyes can get a true feel for a location before they ever set foot in the area.

If you know the specific location where you’ll be conducting surveillance, do the following to get prepared for your mission:

  • Lookup the address using either the website or the app. Sometimes it’s better to use a computer during the planning stage to get a better, larger view of the area. Then use the app during the mission to look up specific things.
  • Get a feel for the location using both the map view, satellite view, and the street view option
  • Use the street view to understand the building structures in the area, noting the trees, bushes, or other things that may prevent a clear view of the area you plan to watch
  • Identify the best location for parking your vehicle. If you’ll be on foot, make note of how you’ll get to and from your vehicle without being seen.
  • Make note of the best way to enter and exit the area to avoid being noticed

One important note: The images used for mapping and satellite views are fairly current. However, the images used for street view may be out of date, as they are more difficult for Google to keep up to date. We note this because things may have changed since the photos were taken. Use the tool during planning as a guide, but be prepared to adapt if the layout is not exactly what you viewed online.

Great for Navigation and Traffic Monitoring

In addition to providing information on the location itself, Google Maps helps you get there more efficiently. The app provides transit directions and maps for over 15,000 towns and cities. Also, it provides voice-guided GPS navigation for driving, biking, and walking. This feature is helpful because it allows private investigators to keep their hands free to drive or to use video or surveillance equipment. Also, the apps provide live traffic conditions, incident reports, and automatic rerouting to find the best route when traveling or conducting mobile surveillance.

If you’re already in pursuit, Google Maps dynamically re-routes based on upcoming traffic patterns, helping you avoid traffic jams, which makes following investigation subjects more manageable.

Learn How to Use All of the Features

Rather than re-hash all of the instructions that explain how to use its features, we’d rather direct you to the latest information that is available from much better sources. Although there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of articles that explain how to use the various mapping, navigation and other features, the best place to learn is from those who created the product. Google provides some great resources including how-to reference guides, videos, and tutorials.

Another great resource for learning how to use Google Maps to plan surveillance projects is the Google Maps Help site. This great resource explains how to search and explore maps, how to get directions and plan trips, and how to use advanced features. It also shows you how to use tools such as street view and Earth View, which may be particularly helpful for private investigators who are planning surveillance missions.

Take the next step in preparing by using the Zillow app to investigate the specific house you’re planning to watch

Download the Google Maps App

The app is available for use on Android and Apple phones and tablets and can also be accessed via the web. Android users who use such devices as the Samsung Galaxy or Note devices can visit Google Play to download. Follow the online instructions for downloading and installing the app. Private eyes who use Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads can download and install the app via iTunes.

Note: Some features are not available in all countries, so be sure to investigate what is available in the area where you plan on conducting surveillance.

If you have any questions about how to use Google Maps to plan surveillance projects. Please leave a message below. While you’re here, learn about other Private Investigator Apps and software for Private Eyes.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


  1. Hi Can google maps/ google earth etc be used to monitor a house in real time? If these apps/ sites cant do it are there others that can?

    • Google updates the photos used in Google Earth every one to three years. As far as I know, only military satellites have a real-time view.

      An alternative solution might be be to use a drone, or multiple drones, with cameras to hover above the house. They would have to hover high enough to out of sound range.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.