The official blog for Google Maps
Street View gives you a window into climate change
November 30, 2015
From polar bears in the Canadian Arctic, to communities in the Brazilian Amazon, to blue oak trees in Central California, the impacts of climate change are being felt by plants, animals and people across the planet. As world leaders gather for the
COP21 conference in Paris
this week to discuss our changing climate, we want to take this opportunity to show you how to explore its impact yourself. With Street View, you can get a window into some of our world’s changing ecosystems, and learn how nonprofit and other organizations are working to keep our planet healthy.
Polar bears are in trouble because of the melting sea ice, on which they depend to survive. That’s why
Polar Bears International
(PBI) borrowed the
Street View Trekker
map polar bears
fragile sea ice habitat
, to share the remote ecosystem with people all over the world. And to educate classrooms, PBI created a
lesson plan and activity
for schools to do their own exploration of this precious habitat.
Polar bear on the edge of Hudson Bay
, waiting for the sea ice to freeze (see more
Ever wonder how plants are faring in a changing climate? Scientists at the
do, too. To help them learn more, they borrowed the Trekker earlier this year to
monitor the health of blue oak trees
in Central California, which have declined due to stress from changing temperatures.
may lose up to 41% of their population by 2100 because of climate change, so they plan to capture Street View imagery again in the future so they can keep a digital record, log their changes, and design conservation strategies to protect the life of these blue oak trees.
Blue Oaks in central California
that one way to slow climate change is to protect the standing forests that we have now, as these trees remove and stock carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. The Brazilian nonprofit
Amazonas Sustainable Foundation
(FAS) borrowed the Trekker to show people exactly what the Amazon forest looks like on the ground and put isolated local communities on the map. They captured imagery from three different reserves in the Brazilian Amazon, including hundreds of kilometers walking through
and floating down
Amazon river tributaries
. The nonprofit is using the imagery to educate the world about rainforest protection and sustainable ecosystem management.
Pristine Amazon rainforest in Juma Sustainable Development Reserve (see more
Street View is great for visualizing the impacts of climate change, but we’re also using our Street View platform to measure climate data, which can be use
d by scientists, policymakers, businesses and citizens to drive better decisions.
For the past few years,
Google Earth Outreach
has worked with the
Environmental Defense Fund
map thousands of methane leaks
from natural gas lines under select U.S. city streets using Street View cars equipped with methane analyzers. Recently, one of the largest U.S. utilities,
that they will use data and maps from our Street View mapping effort to prioritize the replacement of hundreds of miles of gas mains and thousands of service lines for their newly approved multi-million dollar pipeline replacement program.
Google Earth Outreach has also partnered with
many more pollutants
with Street View cars, including particulate matter, black carbon, and carbon dioxide—pollutants that are harmful to both our climate and our health. Essentially, we’re turning Street View cars into environmental sensing platforms
plan to map California communities
in the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley, and LA regions through 2016.
We hope this post has opened your eyes to the ways the world is being impacted by climate change. If you’re interested in getting involved, consider submitting an application to the
Trekker Loan Program
, which allows nonprofit and other organizations to borrow the Trekker to capture 360-degree imagery of the places they care about on our changing planet.
Posted by Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Google Earth Outreach Program Manager
Discover Jordan’s past and present in Google Maps
November 23, 2015
Starting today you can explore more than 30 historical sites throughout Jordan in Google Street View. To tell you more, read today’s guest blog post, by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. -Ed.
What a great day for Jordan and Jordanians! Thanks to Google Street View, we can now share the rich, proud and varied history of our country with anyone who has an Internet connection. With more than 30 historical sites available to explore virtually, people all over the world now have a window into our beautiful Kingdom in the heart of the Middle East.
Throughout the ages, ancient civilizations have left their footprints in Jordan. Reminders of the Silk Road which linked the regions of the world in commerce. Ancient cities, such as the Romans’ Jerash and the Nabateans’ Petra. Significant religious sites, like Mount Nebo and the River Jordan. And, to this day, we continue to discover such footprints.
With Google Street View, would-be visitors, or those just curious to learn more about our ancient lands, can explore Jordan’s unique historical heritage online. That’s one of the reasons I love this technology. Not only does it connect millions of people from all corners of the world, it provides a lens on the past. And when we understand more about each other’s stories and cultures and histories, we realize that we are more alike than we are different. That’s why we must preserve these treasures for future generations. They’re a doorway to our shared narrative.
To this day, after too many trips to count, Jordan’s ancient archeological site, the Rose-Red city of Petra, still fills me with awe. Concealed in majestic mountain gorges, visitors can wander through
he entire city of Petra
, imagining what life was like in the thriving trading center and capital of the Nabataean kingdom. Carved by hand into vibrant red, white and pink sandstone cliffs, it has, miraculously, survived earthquakes to withstand the test of time. Film buffs might recognize it from
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
when Harrison Ford and Sean Connery joined forces in their quest to find the Holy Grail. Now, you can step back in time and take a narrated tour of this hidden gem, exploring the tombs, sites and amphitheater that span an area the size of lower Manhattan.
Treasury in Petra
is estimated to be over 2,000 years
Jerash is the second most visited site outside Petra. It’s considered one of the best preserved examples of Roman architecture outside Italy. With one click, you can stroll through its ruins,
walk its streets
, sing in its
and contemplate life in its baths and temples. Before you leave, remember to send a message through the city’s ancient whispering columns!
Jerash Roman South Theater
can fit more than 3000 people
- Jerash, Jordan
located 10 km west of the Roman Byzantine town of Madaba,
s one of the most revered holy sites in Jordan.. While you’re close to Madaba, step into its historic church to view the Madaba Mosaic Map, the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history.
The Madaba Mosaic Map
, created in 6th century AD, originally contained over two million tesserae!
The Madaba Mosaic Map
in church of Saint George - Madaba, Jordan
What could be more relaxing than a float in the world’s saltiest waters? A visit to the
the lowest point on earth
is known to be a very therapeutic experience, thanks to its oxygen-rich water and mineral-mud.
Dead Sea Panorama
- Dead Sea, Jordan
While you’re exploring, don’t be surprised if you find a medieval castle right in the middle of the desert. We’ve got many—from crusader castles like
built by Saladin, to Umayyad desert castles
Qasr Al Kharana
Jordan remains a haven of peace and moderation in the Middle East. So, please, come and visit us. Meet and talk with our warm and hospitable people. Taste our cuisine. Learn some Arabic. Relax in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea and the Ma'in Springs. Marvel at the rich colors of Wadi Rum, the spectacular desert backdrop to "The Martian". Walk in the footsteps of our forebears. There’s so much to see and experience.
There’s something for everyone in Jordan. And I couldn’t be happier that now, thanks to Google Maps, we can share our rich cultural heritage with the world. Visit
to start your tour. My Jordan is now your Jordan too. As we say to all our visitors: ahlan wa sahlan. Hello and welcome.
Posted by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan
Get ahead this Thanksgiving with Google Maps
November 17, 2015
It’s that time of year again. Next week, tens of millions of us will hit the roads, consume millions of pounds of turkey, and then spend billions on Black Friday deals. Google Maps looked at Thanksgiving trends from the last three years to uncover the most useful information to make your holiday plans go a little bit easier. Whether you’re traveling, doing some last-minute grocery shopping, or Black Friday deal-dashing, here’s our day-by-day guide to braving the holiday crowds.
No travel day leading up to the holiday is going to be a breeze, but if you can, start driving Tuesday rather than Wednesday. Yes, it’s still the second-worst travel day of the week, but according to Google Maps searches, for the last three years Wednesday has been the worst travel day—with the exceptions of Boston (Tuesday), and Honolulu, Providence and San Francisco (all Saturday).
Americans are pretty predictable when it comes to the holidays: for the third year in a row, “ham shop” was the #1 trending destination search on Google Maps the day before Thanksgiving. Whether you’re running out to a ham shop, pie shop (#2), or liquor store (#3), make sure you don’t head all the way there just to find it closed. This year Google Maps and Google Search have added
, so when you search for a business, you’ll see its updated holiday schedule.
Maybe folks were put off by the trauma of last year’s burnt turkey? Nationwide, “buffet restaurants” were the #1 trending Google Maps term on Thanksgiving Day. But locally, folks were heading in other directions. In Houston, “doughnut shops” were trending on Thanksgiving. It was “bars” in Chicago— maybe people needed a break from their families. And Miami residents were interested in looking their holiday best—”beauty salons” were among the trending searches by the South Beach crowd.
The top Black Friday Google Maps trends nationwide were predictably of the “electronics store” and “outlet mall” variety—with “Christmas tree farms” not far behind as people looked ahead. Digging into local trends, however, things get more surprising. New Yorkers were on the hunt for tattoo shops, among other things, Angelenos for hookah bars, and people in Detroit spent their Black Friday on the lookout for hamburgers. Whether you’re in the market for a Christmas tree tat or shopping deals, here’s a tip: use the
feature on Google Maps to discover the stores, restaurants and local entertainment around you.
Traffic patterns show that you’re better off driving home from a long weekend on Sunday rather than Saturday—traffic can be up to 40% worse on Saturday. And Google Maps will be with you all the way home, helping you check out
gas prices and add detours
to your route, without having to exit out of navigation.
Posted by Pierre Petronin, Google Maps
Get your favorite places on the map with Local Guides
November 13, 2015
Picking the right place to go can be tough—whether you’re looking for a night out with friends, a quiet weekend away with family, or just a neighborhood coffee shop. To help make these decisions easier, we’re expanding the
program in Google Maps, which gives you the chance to share your discoveries directly to the map, making it more useful for everyone.
Local Guides is a global community that helps you explore the world while earning perks. Once you
, every place you contribute to in Google Maps earns you points towards unlocking something new—from early access to new products to exclusive contests and events, bonus Drive storage, and more.
You can earn points and level up by writing reviews, uploading photos, adding new places, fixing outdated information, and answering simple questions. Each contribution type is worth one point, so you can earn up to five points per place.
The more you contribute as a Local Guide, the more benefits you’ll enjoy. Here’s an overview of what you’ll unlock at each level:
Level 1 (0 - 4 points)
: Enter exclusive contests (think new Google devices!) in select countries.
Level 2 (5 - 49 points)
: Get early access to new Google products and features.
Level 3 (50 - 199 points)
: Show up in the Google Maps app with your official Local Guides badge.
Level 4 (200 - 499 points)
: Receive a free 1 TB upgrade of your Drive storage, allowing you to keep all the stories, photos, and videos from your travels in one safe place.
Level 5 (500+ points)
: The very top Local Guides will become eligible to apply to attend our inaugural summit in 2016, where you’ll be able to meet other top Guides from around the world, explore the Google campus, and get the latest info about Google Maps. Look out for details early next year.
, download the latest Google Maps update on
to follow your progress on the new Contributions tab. Your total points, level, and to-do list—suggestions for places to contribute to—conveniently appear together in one place. And when you share photos, you'll now see view counts, giving you an idea of how many people your image may have helped. To learn more about how to contribute and unlock benefits, visit our
Posted by Mara Chomsky, Local Guides Community Management Lead
Navigate and search the real world … online or off
November 10, 2015
Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty. That means that quick and easy access to information is still not possible for a majority of the population. This is a huge problem, especially as people attempt to navigate and explore the world around them, so Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions and get where they’re going, even when they don’t have an Internet connection.
Now you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there’s no connectivity—whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage—Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly. Whereas before you could simply view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings.
You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping "Download" on the resulting place sheet, or by going to "Offline Areas" in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the “+” button. Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all. When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route. By default, we’ll only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.
these new capabilities during Google I/O in May, and today we’re gradually rolling out the first set of these improvements with the latest version of Google Maps on Android (coming soon to iOS). Over time, we’ll be introducing even more offline features to help you find your way—even when you can’t find a connection.
Posted by Amanda Bishop, Product Manager, Google Maps
‘Tis the season: Google brings holiday hours to Maps and Search
November 6, 2015
Ever trekked all the way to your favorite restaurant just to realize it’s closed for the holidays? Well, we have. Now Google Maps and Google Search will help you avoid that common holiday mistake. We've added holiday hours to Maps and Search, so when you search for a business and a major holiday is within the next seven days, you’ll see whether the business has a special holiday schedule. Not only will you avoid showing up to find the doors locked, but you’ll save time by not having to call the business or check the website for hours.
If you want to find out what’s open as the holiday draws close, just search for a place and if the holiday hours are listed, you’ll see them.
If you search for a business and the holiday hours aren’t listed, you’ll see a warning message alerting you that the actual hours may be different because of the holiday.
And if you want to find a nearby open coffee shop, restaurant or bakery, just use the “Open Now” filter and we’ll show you places that are open on these days.
We’ve got you covered pretty much everywhere you search and anywhere you go. Because holiday hours and warnings are available globally, if you happen to be celebrating
Boxing Day in the UK
New Year’s Eve in Sweden
, you’ll see info specific to the country you’re in. How’s that for traveling like a local?
Posted by Jonathan Sidi, Product Manager, Google Maps & Local Search
Take a walk on the wild side with Street View in New Zealand
November 4, 2015
of the Milford Track to the
of the Kepler Track, you can now explore some of the most stunning parts of New Zealand’s wilderness with the launch of seven of the world-renowned ‘
’ on Google Street View. Known for the beauty of their remote multi-day treks, the Great Walks are a favourite destination for hikers around the world, and are now available in 360-degree panoramic imagery right from your smartphone or computer, with Google Maps.
Collected with help from our friends at New Zealand’s Department of Conservation using the
, this new imagery shows off New Zealand’s natural beauty while inspiring hikers around the world to plan a trip.
Our intrepid trekker collector Matt checks the lenses of the Google Trekker at Lake Te Anau on the Kepler Track
Take in the view of Lake Waikaremoana from
, look down at the Hollyford Valley from
, or check out the
tallest waterfall in New Zealand
— all without breaking a sweat.
looks over Lake Waikaremoana which translates to ‘sea of rippling waters’ in
on the Routeburn Track is quite a hike at 1,515 meters. (It’s easier to get to from your phone).
Dropping 580 meters from Lake Quill, the
on the Milford Track are bigger than Eiffel Tower.
Emerging from the
on the Heaphy Track you might not see hobbits, but if you’re very lucky you can sometimes spot
. They’re even more common at
which is a fur seal breeding ground.
Wander through an
on the Heaphy Track. (Eat your heart out, Peter Jackson).
Say hi to
on the Heaphy Track
Even without seals,
knows how to put on a good show.
If you’re enjoying the coast, why not head south to the
on Stewart Island? Once you’ve explored that, you can head north again to the Abel Tasman Track and cross
The Falls River suspension bridge
over the Kohaihai River.
An impressive 47-meter long suspension bridge takes you over
It’s just a hop, step and a
over the Kohaihai River on the Abel Tasman Track
New Zealand’s Great Walks have long been on the bucket list of keen outdoors people from all around the world. We hope by bringing the
tracks to Street View, these images will not only help people who are about to trek them prepare, but give anyone who wants to virtually roam the beauty of the Great Walks an opportunity to do so. And you can view more Street View collections from around New Zealand here.
Posted by Cynthia Wei, Program Manager, Google Street View
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