Google Maps for Surveillance Planning: Preparation is Key

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

Modern private investigators use 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. Read on if you want to learn how to use Google Maps to help plan surveillance projects.

Use Google Maps to Plan Surveillance

Before conducting surveillance, it is wise for investigators to become familiar with the area they will be working in. Investigators need to know 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. Getting pictures or videos is hard if you can’t see your subject. In some cases, you can even view indoor imagery.

Although several mapping websites and apps are available for the job, we recommend Google Maps for private investigators. The app provides comprehensive and accurate maps of more than 220 countries and territories. In addition, it provides detailed information on more than 100 million places, including street views and indoor imagery for restaurants, museums, and more. With features like these, private eyes can get an authentic 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:

  • Look up the address using either the website or the app. Sometimes, using a computer during the planning stage is better to get a larger view of the area. Then, use the app during the mission to look up specific things.
  • Seek map, satellite, and street view options to get a feel for the location.
  • Use the street view to understand the building structures in the area, noting the trees, bushes, or other things that may prevent a clear picture of the site you plan to watch
  • Identify the best location for parking your vehicle. If you are on foot, note how you’ll get to and from your vehicle without being seen.
  • Note 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 relatively current. However, the photos used for street view may be outdated, as it is 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 what you viewed online.

Great for Navigation and Traffic Monitoring

In addition to providing information on the location, 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 Google Maps Features

Rather than re-hash all of the instructions explaining how to use its features, we’d direct you to the latest information from much better sources. Although hundreds, maybe even thousands, of articles 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 excellent resources, including how-to reference guides, videos, and tutorials.

Another excellent resource for learning how to use Google Maps to plan surveillance projects is the Google Maps Help site. This superb resource explains how to search and explore maps, get directions, plan trips, and use advanced features. It also shows you how to use street view and Earth View tools, which may be particularly helpful for private investigators 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 Android and Apple phones and tablets and can 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 unavailable in all countries, so investigate what is available in the area where you plan to conduct surveillance.

If you have 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.

Also, get access to billions of online public records.

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.


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