Microsoft and Google go head to head over tracking Santa

NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) has been tracking Santa since 1955. It all began when a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. The phone number put the children 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 the Santa Tracker was born.

NORAD now uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets. The Santa Cams “are ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many locations around the world. NORAD only uses these cameras once a year. The cameras capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world”. Full technical details of all four systems can be found on the NORAD Santa site at

2012 NORAD Santa Tracker
2012 NORAD Tracks Santa (HD) – YouTube :

In 2007 Google became an official NORAD Tracks Santa partner and provided the maps that displayed real time information on Santa’s location. This year, that partnership ended and NORAD is now using Microsoft’s Bing Maps. In response Google has launched its own Santa Tracker at It will be interesting to see how it compares with NORAD’s but straight away I have to query the quality of Google’s pre-launch information. On the “Learn more” page at the image shows not Santa as the central figure but a large snowman. Surely some mistake?

Google Santa Tracker Learn More

Google is also trying to push Google+ as the main source of information with up to the minute reports being posted on +Googlemaps at

At the time of writing this post lift off was just 15 minutes away so you still have time to get a ring side seat with the tracer of your choice:

The original NORAD tracker

Google Santa Tracker