GIS News

Google Maps goes for the win with Rio updates

Aug 05 2016 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps

Mapping a sprawling, densely populated city of 6 million people like Rio de Janeiro is a tough task. With an extra 10,000 athletes, half a million travelers, and tens of thousands of volunteers heading to the city this month, you can expect additional friction caused by road closures, traffic, and jam-packed attractions. Google Maps is putting the finishing touches on some first prize-worthy updates to help tourists and Rio residents alike get around “the Marvelous City” with ease. We even threw in a couple changes for those enjoying the events from home to feel like they’re in the middle of the action.

Getting around Rio without a hitch

For folks on the ground in Rio, Maps can be your real-world assistant, helping you get where you’re going via whichever mode of transportation you prefer. In April, we launched real-time transit for 1,300 bus lines in the ​​Rio metro area, as well as bike routes throughout Rio and the rest of Brazil.

Construction, security and crowds during large-scale events can put a damper on a driver’s day. We’re working with the City of Rio to make sure Google Maps has the most up-to-date info on traffic, road closures and detours and help get you where you’re going faster.

Breezing through traffic and beating the crowds is reason for celebration. With the Explore feature on Google Maps for Android and iOS in Brazil, anyone can uncover the local gems wherever you go by simply tapping “Explore food & drinks near you” at the bottom of the app. From there you can swipe through the best breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner, and drinks spots around them.


Getting all of Rio on the map

The favelas of Rio aren’t well-known to many outsiders, partly because there’s limited information about these areas to include on maps. We partnered with the local Brazilian nonprofit Grupo Cultural AfroReggae on a project called “Tá No Mapa” (“It’s On the Map” in English). Together with AfroReggae we trained 150 favela residents on digital mapping skills and in just two years they’ve mapped 26 favelas and gotten more than 3,000 businesses on the map. Not only does this allow locals to find businesses like Bar do David — an award-winning restaurant in the favela Chapeu Mangueira — it’s helped some local residents get a mailing address for the first time.

Street View of Rio de Janeiro

Getting in on the action from home

For those of you (*raises hand*) who can’t make it to Rio this summer, you can still get in on the excitement from the comfort of your home. We refreshed our Google Street View imagery to give virtual travelers an insider's look at the stadiums. You can almost taste the caipirinhas!

For those who really want to feel like they’re in the the game, we also launched indoor maps of all 25 official indoor venues and added more details to the maps of the 12 outdoor venues – like the custom-made golf course where you can now practically see all 18 holes.


No matter what city you find yourself in this summer, these very same features can help you find the perfect spot to watch the action and get there with ease.

An experiment built with 3D Google Maps imagery, inspired by kids

Aug 03 2016 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps

For years, Google Maps has been adding 3D imagery from all over the world – New York City, the Grand Canyon, Mont Blanc, and more. A few of us started wondering if this 3D imagery could make learning about the world a bit more fun for kids. We started playing with quick prototypes, and even brainstormed with our own kids to get inspired by their sense of curiosity.

Our idea became a new, experimental app called Verne: The Himalayas. It invites you to explore the Himalayas as a 500 foot Yeti named Verne. You can run up Mt. Everest, chase yaks, discover bits of information, ride a jetpack, play Himalayan instruments, and more.

We're excited to share it today as a fun way for anyone to take a summer trip to the tallest mountain range in the world. Get the app for your Android device from the Play Store, or learn more here.

Let Google be your guide to Rio de Janeiro

Aug 01 2016 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps search sports trends youtube

The modern Olympic Games have been a defining moment for athletes and fans alike dating back to 1896. Next week, the 2016 cauldron will be lit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where thousands of athletes will come together to represent the strength and pride of their home countries with the world as their audience.

In celebration of the next chapter in Olympics history, we’re bringing the best our products have to offer to help people around the world stay up-to-date with the Olympic Games Rio 2016:
  • Discover the event schedule, medal counts, and athlete information in Search
  • Get results and view TV schedules in 30+ countries
  • Watch official broadcasters’ event highlights on YouTube in 60+ countries
  • Explore Rio and venues in Google Maps
  • Keep up to date with the latest search Trends from around the world
    On Google, searching for information about your favorite athletes and sports, the medal race, or your country’s schedule has never been easier. Pro tip: if you search on the Google app on Android and iOS, you’ll also see an option to get automatic updates on top event and medal wins, so you’ll never miss a beat.

    To give you a glimpse into the Games, watch official broadcasters’ video highlights on YouTube in more than 60 countries around the world. And as an added bonus, YouTube is sending 15 top creators to Rio, giving you a taste of what it’s like to be there with mobile live streaming.

    With Street View in Google Maps, everyone can enjoy the magic of Rio de Janeiro. Even if you’re a world away, preview the places where the world's most talented athletes will make history and explore the breathtaking beauty of Brazil.
    Google Trekker operator captures 360-degree imagery from inside Rio’s Olympic Park

    Great triumphs, victories and stunning surprises await us all this summer. This is just a hint of what’s to come—we hope you’ll let Google be your guide.

    Now you can build multi-stop road trips on Google Maps for iOS

    Jul 29 2016 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps


    With many people looking to sneak one more getaway into their summer plans, we’ve launched multi-stop directions for Google Maps on iOS (already available on Android). Here’s how it works: Just open the app, enter a destination, tap the corner menu, and then tap “Add stop”. To rearrange the order of your stops, tap and hold the stop you want to move and drag it to the position you want. Once you’ve added all your stops, tap “Done” and your multi-stop route is complete. When you enter navigation mode you’ll have the same seamless driving experience you’re used to, whether you’re going from errand to errand or hitting scenic spots along Route 66.

    Explore Rio from every angle

    Jul 29 2016 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  arts & culture google ar and vr maps

    With its beautiful beaches and breathtaking landscape, Rio de Janeiro is a city that appears on every traveler's bucket list. Now, thanks to the wonders of technology, you can now explore the "Marvelous City" and its rich cultural heritage even if you can't make the trip. We partnered with eight of Rio's top cultural institutions to create an interactive online collection of some of the city’s most famous art exhibits and landmarks, including some inspiring real-life stories from the city's favelas, all available on Google Arts & Culture. Bem-vindos ao Rio!

    Arts, monuments and more

    The collection includes 360° panoramas with Street View technology, some 3,000 images from photo archives and art exhibits, virtual reality tours with Google Cardboard and videos showcasing a new generation of Cariocas making their mark in the city's cultural landscape. From iconic monuments and spectacular views, to the history of Guanabara Bay and the majestic Theatro Municipal, these online exhibits capture Rio from every angle.

    Take an interactive tour of Rio's best-known monument—the Christ the Redeemer statue perched atop Corcovado mountain—or explore its storied musical history through album covers designed by Elifas Andreato.

    You can also go back in time by taking a peek at one of the richest collections of archival photographs of Rio, or tag along on a guided tour of the works of Rio-based artist and author Ziraldo, whose comics and children's books have marked the lives of generations of Brazilians. 

    Mapping the whole city

    A huge part of Rio’s history and culture resides in the hillside favelas that dot the landscape. In fact, one in five Rio residents live in favelas, but only 0.001 percent of the city's favelas appear on the map. That means 1.4 million people have no addresses to list on job applications or bank accounts, and aren’t able to access many economic opportunities, essential services, even basic rights as citizens. So we teamed up with local NGO Grupo Cultural AfroReggae to map the favelas. Two years later, streets and 10,000+ local businesses in 26 favelas now appear on Google Maps, thanks to "Tá no Mapa," our "On the Map" project.
    07_29 - Rio Angle3.gif
    The Rocinha favela before and after our mapping project

    Beyond the Map

    Along the way, we met some amazing people with remarkable stories, so we decided it was time to go "Beyond the Map" and shine a spotlight on an often overlooked side of Rio. With AfroReggae's help, we brought Street View and 360° technology to favelas for the first time, creating an immersive experience that lets you go beyond GPS coordinates and get to know the people and culture of communities that many people otherwise wouldn't get the chance to visit. You can even experience what it feels like to zip through the narrow streets of a favela on a motorcycle taxi!
    This new online collection opens its virtual doors today at on Google Arts & Culture. It is available on the web on mobile, tablet and desktop, and on the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android devices. The Beyond the Map project can also be viewed at

    With the world’s eyes on Rio, we’re excited to give you a glimpse of all the splendor and creativity the city has to offer!

    Now you can find the butcher, the baker and the yukata maker with Google Maps

    Jun 22 2016 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  google in asia maps

    Tourists from around the world are flocking to Japan in increasing numbers. According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, over 2 million tourists came to Japan in April, which is the highest number on record. If you’re one of the many visitors who doesn’t speak or read Japanese, it can be tricky to find your way around.

    Say you’re shopping in downtown Tokyo. Although Google Maps can you tell you the English and Japanese names of stores like Matsumoto Kiyoshi or Lawson, these don’t tell you what kind of stores these are. Are they cosmetics stores, fashion boutiques, ramen restaurants or stationery stores? The list of possibilities is endless. (Which is how long it can feel to switch between apps to look things up too!)

    From today it’s easier to see what kind of store you’re looking at in Google Maps. Now you’ll be able to see if you’re looking at a bookstore, laundromat, pizza restaurant or toy store in Google Maps. This way you’ll know that you can pick up a late night snack at Lawsons or some cosmetics at Matsumoto Kiyoshi.
    There are more than 1,000 types of businesses available and this feature will be available in 19 languages. These include Arabic, Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Dutch, English, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

    These categories are rolling out over time and will appear in Google Maps when you arrive in Japan. We hope this new feature makes exploring Japan easier with Google Maps—and good luck finding that yukata!

    Reach new heights with Street View of Mont Blanc in Google Maps

    Jan 21 2016 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  google in europe maps travel

    Declared the “monarch of mountains” by Lord Byron, the Mont Blanc massif is shrouded in mystery, rolling clouds and imposing snowfields. One of Europe’s highest peaks, the wild terrain of the famed mountain range is reserved for ardent mountaineers and intrepid explorers. Starting today in Google Maps, you can get an up-close, 360-degree look at the breathtaking beauty of Mont Blanc. Following last year’s first-ever vertical imagery collection of El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park, we partnered with world-renowned alpine photographers, skiers, mountaineers, climbers, and runners to collect Street View of Western Europe’s highest peak.

    Explore Mont Blanc with Kilian Jornet, Ueli Steck, Candide Thovex, and Google Maps

    Explore Mont Blanc with Kilian Jornet, Ueli Steck, Candide Thovex, and Google Maps

    By working with legendary adventurers, the Street View team was able to capture the spirit of the massif in a way few witness firsthand. Run on the summit with Kilian Jornet—he holds the speed record for ascending and descending Mont Blanc in just 4 hours 57 minutes! Ice climb up a serac with record-setting alpine climber Ueli Steck, or go knee deep in powder alongside 14-time ski mountaineering champion Laetitia Roux and famed guide Patrick Gabarrou.

    Ueli Steck on Mont Blanc
    Ueli Steck ice climbing on Mont Blanc

    You can also join French climbing legend Catherine Destivelle on the imposing yet beautiful Aiguille du Midi, the 3842-meter peak near the Mont Blanc. Or, crouch below innovative filmmaker and free skier Candide Thovex as he soars through the air or has fun as only he can—by taking his skis from the snow to the grass.

    Shooting Kilian SV_BTS Still WOB.jpg
    Renan Ozturk, acclaimed cinematographer and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, alpine photographer Jonathan Griffith, and Sender Films joined Google on Mont Blanc as part of the team.

    If reaching the top is what you care about, elite guide Korra Pesce joined the troupe by carrying the Street View Trekker up and down the Goûter Route of Mont Blanc. Click through the Street View to get his first-person perspective of each step to the summit.

    Gouter Route flythrough gif
    Climb the entire Goûter Route of the Mont Blanc massif

    Unfortunately, Mont Blanc’s glaciers are receding due to climate change. You can learn more about how the rising temperatures are directly affecting the mountain from legendary guide Patrick Gabarrou, who describes the the glacial melt on the Mer de Glace. So this Street View imagery also serves as a digital record of Mont Blanc as it appears today, so future outdoor enthusiasts and scientists can look back at this time capsule to see how the mountain has changed.

    Kilian Jornet climbing Mont Blanc
    Kilian Jornet on the summit of Mont Blanc

    Whether you choose to run up the Mont Blanc with Kilian Jornet or ski down with Laetitia Roux, we hope you enjoy reaching new heights in Europe’s beautiful and endangered mountain range.

    ‘Tis the season for Santa Tracker

    Dec 24 2015 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  holidays maps

    ‘Tis the night before Christmas, at our northernmost pole
    And all through Santa’s Village it’s almost time to roll.
    The elves have been working hard for this night
    Santa’s village is abuzz—tonight’s the big flight!

    Google’s Santa Tracker launches today—
    And it’s time to follow the jolly man's sleigh.
    He’s off on his trip ‘round the world

    Delivering toys to all good boys and girls.


    You’ve got a front-row seat to the show
    Just fire up Google Maps to see where he goes.
    Thanks to the elves’ precisely coded route

    Santa and his reindeer will fly swiftly—look out!

    SantaTracker2015_Code-Boogie_on-devices (2).png

    Now the sleigh tuning’s done,
    Tales of global traditions spun,
    Every gift in the sleigh gently placed,
    Wrapped with care, without haste.

    The reindeer are prancing and eager to fly,
    Ready for Santa’s trip through the sky.
    With so little time to get their job done—

    They may need your help on this gift-giving run.

    So keep the translation tool handy;
    Geography trivia would also be dandy.
    There’s no telling what Santa might need

    Traveling from Brisbane to Lima to Leeds.


    Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
    Join in on the fun—find out what you’re missin’!
    On Maps! On Android, Chromecast and!
    There’s something for everyone, from kids to mom.

    So watch that sleigh as it takes to the air,
    And wherever you are, St. Nick will soon be there.
    To borrow a phrase, as Santa takes flight—

    "Happy holidays to all, and to all a good-night!"

    Walk the ruins of Peru’s most historic site: Machu Picchu

    Dec 04 2015 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  arts & culture maps travel

    Take a train ride through the Andes, above the sacred valley and atop the mist of the mountains, to the most historic site of the Inca Empire. Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, is one of the most famous, mythical and spiritual sites in the world. Now for the first time, in partnership with thePeruvian Ministry of Culture, people across the globe can go on a journey to Machu Picchu directly in Google Maps, uncovering its temples, terraces and plazas that have remained intact since the 15th century. People can also explore rare Inca artifacts and expert insights on the Google Cultural Institute.

    Explore Machu Picchu

    Explore Machu Picchu

    Gazing at the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu more than 2,400 meters above sea level, the site below is a lasting tribute to the power of the Inca Empire. It’s still unclear how the structure composed of behemoth stones was so precisely built without the use of mortar or modern day machinery, but its walls, terraces and stairways weave effortlessly into the mountainside and natural landscape.

    Standing in the Templo Principal, you can imagine how many people have stood at this central gathering place before you. Located at the highest position of the city, this site holds great spiritual meaning to the people of the Citadel. And touring the vast Plaza Principal allows you to virtually walk one of the most sacred ceremonial grounds on the site, which once hosted social and religious celebrations for the Inca.

    Within the long and narrow compounds, called kanchas, you can also explore the Observatorio Astronómico (Intiwatana)Templo del Sol, and Templo de las Tres Ventanas—sites dedicated to Inti, the Inca Sun god—or marvel at the architectural complexity of structures like the Grupo de las Tres Puertas, whose doors lead to the main square.

    After virtually touring these sacred and ceremonial spaces, discover more Wonders of Machu Picchu on the Google Cultural Institute. You can explore more than 130 Inca artifacts online thanks to the Museo Macchupicchu at Casa Concha. In three new online exhibits, the museum's curators share their expert insights on the Inca's daily life and rituals—which are still a subject of great mystery and fascination over 500 years later. Highlights include a perfectly preserved pair of plates decorated with butterflies, and an ingenious device of strings and cords used for record keeping and accounting. See these rare objects in the context of the museum by taking a virtual tour.

    Whether you visit Machu Picchu via a train or hike up the Inca Trail, we’d be honored to be your virtual guide through this sacred space. And while in the area, enjoy exploring still more archaeological treasures from this ancient civilization at the Museo Machupicchu at Casa Concha, which holds the largest collection of Inca artifacts in the world.

    Machu Picchu, a true wonder of the world, is now just a click away.

    Discover Jordan’s past and present in Google Maps

    Nov 23 2015 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  arts & culture maps travel

    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 the 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.

    The Treasury in Petra is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old

    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 theaters 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
    Colonnaded Street - Jerash, Jordan

    Mount Nebo, located 10 km west of the Roman Byzantine town of Madaba, is 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 more than 2 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 Dead Sea, 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 Al Karak, to Ajlun Castle built by Saladin, to Umayyad desert castles Qasr Amra and Qasr Al Kharana.

    Qasr Kharana - Jordan

    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. As we say to all our visitors: ahlan wa sahlan. Hello and welcome.