NORAD follows Santa's trip with new apps
Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps figure into this year's effort
There are eight days until Christmas and the Santa cams and fighter jets are raring to go.
Capturing the fantasy and wonderment of the season for kids of all ages, the North American Aerospace Defense Command continues its tradition of tracking Santa Claus as he makes his way through the world delivering gifts to all the good children.
Although the 55-year tradition began in the pre-Internet era, the Web has proven to be the perfect companion to assist in tracking ol' St. Nick across the globe. This year NORAD taps social networking, Google Maps and mobile technology as its little helpers.
NORAD enhances Santa tracking abilities
NORAD uses Google Earth to help keep tabs on Santa and his reindeer, and users can install an iGoogle gadget to track his sleigh's movements from a Google homepage.
Users can also:
- Follow the NORAD tracking of Santa via Facebook and Twitter.
- Access tracking photo albums and galleries on Picasa.
- Download a Santa tracking app to a mobile phone. On Dec. 24th, open Google Maps for mobile and do a search for "Santa" to see his latest location.
- Send a personalized call from Santa to a loved one via Google Voice.
- Receive daily news updates from the North Pole.
- Download the NORAD Tracks Santa logo and use it on a personal blog, social networking page or desktop screensaver.
On Christmas Eve users are invited to the site to watch videos and track Santa's position as he makes his flight around the world.
NORAD is a military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the U.S. and Canada. Providing advanced warning of impending missile and air attacks against its member nations is one of its missions. The organization uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets, according to its website.
The Santa tracking began in 1955 in Colorado Springs, Colo., by the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD’s predecessor. Col. Harry Shoup and his staff, who were working on Christmas Eve, began fielding phone calls to confused kids looking to speak to Santa. Apparently, a Sears retail store promotion had incorrectly published a phone number in the local paper for children to talk to Santa. The incorrect number led to NORAD. Shoup directed his staff to check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location.