Santa and his reindeer have just 24 hours every year on deliver presents to children everywhere. In case you think he might get lost, both Google and NORAD have apps and websites to show where he has got to.
There has been plenty of activity on offer from both the NORAD and Google Santa Trackers since the beginning of December but today represents the annual climax - the day on which Santa leaves the North Pole in his sleigh.
Now you can ask the questions:
Where is Santa now?
When will Santa arrive?
Remarkably one source of the answers is NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) the organization that tracks airplanes, missiles, space launches and anything else that flies in or around the North American continent.
It all started because of a misprinted telephone number as explained in last year's report of the 60th anniversary of the Santa tracking activities but is worth repeating if you don't know the history:
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
For more details of how NORAD uses its radar installations and fighter pilots to track Santa see NORAD Santa Tracker Celebrates Sixty Years.
NORAD is now helped in its mission by Microsoft which since 2012 has been involved. The MSDN blog explains how the Azure Rapid Response copes with peak usage of the site on Christmas Eve:
The tracking of Santa is accomplished through a multi-region deployment of the application to Azure in data centers around the world which are all load balanced. To handle the scale of the site which has 10s of millions of visitors on Christmas Eve alone, we rely on Azure’s scaling capabilities to expand the different parts of the application up and down accordingly. Planning for that scale involves the collaboration of iLink Systems, Inc., AGI, Bing Maps, and the PSfD ADM team. Together we work on identifying the appropriate cloud patterns and scaling solutions we should be using to handle the demand. But a very key component in making sure Santa’s flight is as smooth as possible, is we do rigorous load testing in advance.
Although in 2012 we reported Santa Trackers from Google and Microsoft, the Google one was already well established and has now been around for 12 years.
The fun begins each and every year when Santa’s Village opens on the website on December 1, as the countdown starts until Santa’s departure from the North Pole. The fun and games, including learn to code activities, remain available until the end of the December.
There are some exclusive items of the Google Santa Tracker that can only be accessed using an Android device. These include four extras games, one of which, Present Quest, involves geolocation and tasks the user with seeing how many of Santa’s misplaced Christmas gifts can be recovered.
Now that Santa has set off from the North Pole Google will use your geolocation to tell you both when Santa will reach you and where he currently is:
Official NORAD Santa Tracker
Google Santa Tracker
NORAD Santa Tracker Celebrates Sixty Years
Google's Santa Tracker Introduces Coding Lab
Santa Trackers from Google and Microsoft
Track Santa With Google And NORAD