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Google and NORAD track Santa on Christmas Eve

High-res Santa Cam images also available on phones

Want to know what time Santa will be touching down Christmas Eve to fill your stockings and drink the glass of milk you've left for him?

Google is teaming up with NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) to help you make your holiday visit calculations this year, and this year it's going mobile.

"The partnership between Google and NORAD to bring the NORAD Tracks Santa Program to children around the world has been a perfect fit," said Stacia Reddish, a NORAD Tracks Santa programme manager.

"Google has the server power needed for the programme, and the fabulous people required in the mapping arena to ensure children know where Santa will be as he makes his trek around the globe," Reddish said.

While this isn't the first time that Google has helped people track Santa's big trip, this is the first year that they can follow him via their mobile phones with Google Maps for Mobile, and using Twitter by adding @noradsanta.

"I always thought NORAD's Santa Tracker was a great holiday tradition, but I felt like it could have been even better if people could visualize exactly where Santa was on Christmas Eve," wrote Brian McClendon, an engineering director at Google in a blog post . "We're hoping this version of the tracker will be the best yet. In addition to our 'Santa Cam' footage, geo-located photos from Panoramio will be viewable in Google Maps for each of Santa's stops that don't include video," McClendon said.

Google noted that a Google Map with Santa's current location will appear at the website www.noradsanta.org , and will be updated as his journey progresses.

People also can track Santa in 3D in Google Earth by downloading a special NORAD Tracks Santa KML. Google added that they will have high-resolution Santa Cam video of the jolly man flying by different locations around the world.

McClendon wrote in his blog that last year Google became NORAD's official Santa Tracking technology partner and hosted www.noradsanta.org. "The heavy traffic - several millions of users - put Google's infrastructure to the test, but with some heroic work by our system reliability engineers, the Santa Tracker worked continuously," he wrote, adding that they have upgraded their server capacity for this year. "We're hoping this version of the tracker will be the best yet."

NORAD has been tracking Santa since 1958, and has been tracking him via the web since 1998.


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