GIS News

The world is a canvas: introducing the street art project

Jun 10 2014 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  arts & culture maps

Here today, gone tomorrow. The transient nature of street art means it can be at risk of being scrubbed out and lost forever to its legions of fans. But long after the paint has faded from the walls, technology can help preserve street art, so people can discover it wherever and whenever they like. In a new project launching today, we’ve partnered with street art experts to bring you 5,000+ images and around 100 exhibitions in the Google Art Project—telling a story of street art around the world.

Starting today, you can immerse yourself in a world of prowling foxes on lonely wallssupernatural symbolismmurals on a grand scale, tiny hard-to-spot icons, or trompe l’oeil techniques that use physical details of the wall itself to trick the eye.

Some of this work was created as a means of expression and activism, like the Chilean open-sky museums of La Pincoya and San Miguel, which were born as community projects to transform poverty-stricken neighborhoods, or to make a political statement like in London and Atlanta.

It’s not just about spraypaint either—other exhibits demonstrate the signature style of the artist, like JR’s large-scale and evocative photo-portraitsRoa’s animalsVhils’ etching or Os Gemeos surrealism.

Regg and Violant
Regg and Violant, Centro Comercial Alegro, Setúbal, Galeria de Arte Urbana
Vhils
Vhils using the texture of the wall as a canvas

Using Street View, you can also explore buildings with street art that are closed to the public, or that have already been demolished—such as the famed Paris 13 tower.

In a series of fascinating exhibitions by our partners, you can also learn about origins of the street art movement or see how Street Art is being used in Poland to revitalize its cities. Take a tour through the origins of New York’s original graffiti movement of the90’s, or see top highlights from the city’s 5 Pointz project. Compare the global nature of the Street Art produced in Mexico, which has a long and vibrant history of muralism, to the scene in the Philippines, which is just developing.

Street art may be temporary on our walls and sidewalks, but its beauty and vibrancy live on, on the web. Take a look— you’re sure to be bowled over by the variety of the urban canvas.


Hop on board—and go almost anywhere—with public transit on Google Maps

May 14 2014 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps travel

More than 70 percent of the world’s population doesn’t own a car1—a surprising fact for anyone who’s sat for what seems like hours on end in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Millions of people rely on public transit to get around. That’s why, since 2007, we’ve worked to include public transit routes and schedules in Google Maps. In fact, buses, trains, trams and subways included in Google Maps travel 200 million kilometers every day—that’s the equivalent of driving every single road in the world three times!2

Maps transit infographic 1

Today, Google Maps is helping you get around on public transit even more easily with these additions:

  • We’ve added every single transit route in Great Britain to Google Maps—making it easier to get anywhere from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
  • On the other side of the globe, Vancouverites looking for sun can now get real-time updates on whether a bus to Kits is faster than one to Third Beach.
  • In Chicago, Cubs fans can now zip to and from Wrigley Field, armed with the real-time information they need to hop on a bus and avoid congestion on Lake Shore Drive.
  • And finally, just in time for the games, we’ve recently added transit information for every host city in Brazil. Can you say “GOOOAAALLLLL?!”
Maps transit infographic 2

Our transit data spans six continents, 64 countries and more than 15,000 towns and cities worldwide. And we’re not done yet: Google Maps will continue to improve—serving people the information they need to get around town when and where they need it.

Maps transit infographic 3


1 This estimate is based on the most recent World Bank data on the number of passenger cars per 1,000 people throughout 100 countries and territories. Passenger cars refer to road motor vehicles, other than two-wheelers, intended for the carriage of passengers and designed to seat no more than nine people (including the driver).

2 CIA World Factbook


Go back in time with Street View

Apr 23 2014 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps

If you’ve ever dreamt of being a time traveler like Doc Brown, now’s your chance. Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We've gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world.

Singapore time machine
If you see a clock icon in the upper left-hand portion of a Street View image, click on it and move the slider through time and select a thumbnail to see that same place in previous years or seasons.

Now with Street View, you can see a landmark's growth from the ground up, like the Freedom Tower in New York City or the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. This new feature can also serve as a digital timeline of recent history, like the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan. You can even experience different seasons and see what it would be like to cruise Italian roadways in both summer and winter.

Freedom Tower
Construction of the Freedom Tower, New York City
Japan earthquake
Destruction in Onagawa, Japan after the 2011 earthquake

Forget going 88 mph in a DeLorean—you can stay where you are and use Google Maps to virtually explore the world as it is—and as it was. Happy (time) traveling!


Wandering in the footsteps of the polar bear with Google Maps

Feb 27 2014 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  google.org maps

This guest post is from Krista Wright, the executive director of Polar Bears International. We’ve partnered with PBI to share a fascinating look at polar bears in the wild using Google Maps. -Ed.

In Inuit poetry, the polar bear is known as Pihoqahiak, the ever-wandering one. Some of the most majestic and elusive creatures in the world, polar bears travel hundreds of miles every year, wandering the tundra and Arctic sea ice in search of food and mates. Today, with the help of Street View, we’re celebrating International Polar Bear Day by sharing an intimate look at polar bears in their natural habitat.

Street View Trekker
The Street View Trekker, mounted on a Tundra Buggy, captures images of Churchill’s polar bears

We’ve joined forces with Google Maps to collect Street View imagery from a remote corner of Canada’s tundra: Churchill, Manitoba, home to one of the largest polar bear populations on the planet. With the help of outfitters Frontiers North, the Google Maps team mounted the Street View Trekker onto a specially designed “Tundra Buggy,” allowing us to travel across this fragile landscape without interfering with the polar bears or other native species. Through October and November we collected Street View imagery from the shores of Hudson’s Bay as the polar bears waited for the sea ice to freeze over.

Modern cartography and polar bear conservation

There’s more to this effort than images of cuddly bears, though. PBI has been working in this region for more than 20 years, and we’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact of warmer temperatures and melting sea ice on the polar bear’s environment. Understanding global warming, and its impact on polar bear populations, requires both global and regional benchmarks. Bringing Street View to Canada's tundra establishes a baseline record of imagery associated with specific geospatial data—information that’s critical if we’re to understand and communicate the impact of climate change on their sensitive ecosystem. As we work to safeguard their habitat, PBI can add Street View imagery to the essential tools we use to assess and respond to the biggest threat facing polar bears today.

Polar Bear Tracker
Polar Bear International’s Bear Tracker

We also use the Google Maps API to support our Bear Tracker, which illustrates the frozen odyssey these bears embark on every year. As winter approaches and the sea ice freezes over, polar bears head out onto Hudson Bay to hunt for seals. Bear Tracker uses of satellite monitors and an interactive Google Map to display their migration for a global audience.

Explore the Polar Bear Capital of the World with Google Maps

Explore the Polar Bear Capital of the World with Google Maps

Mapping the communities of Canada’s Arctic

Google’s trip north builds on work they’ve done in the Arctic communities of Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit. In the town of Churchill, the Google Maps team conducted a community MapUp, which let participants use Map Maker to edit and add to the Google Map. From the Town Centre Complex, which includes the local school, rink and movie theatre, to the bear holding facility used to keep polar bears who have wandered into town until their release can be planned, the citizens of the Churchill made sure Google Maps reflects the community that they know.

But building an accurate and comprehensive map of Canada’s north also means heading out of town to explore this country’s expansive tundra. And thanks to this collaboration with Google Maps, people around the world now have the opportunity to virtually experience Canada’s spectacular landscape—and maybe take a few moments to wander in the footsteps of the polar bear.


Thank you, and welcome to the new Google Maps

Feb 19 2014 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps

Over the coming weeks the new Google Maps will make its way onto desktops around the world. Many of you have been previewing it since its debut last May, and thanks to your helpful feedback we’re ready to make the new Maps even more widely available.

It’s now even easier to plan your next trip, check live traffic conditions, discover what’s happening around town, and learn about a new area—with Pegman’s help if needed. Here’s a quick refresher on what to expect in the new Google Maps:

  • Make smarter decisions. Simply search for “coffee” in your neighborhood, and you’ll be able to see results and snippets right on the map. When you click on a cafe, the map will suggest related results that you may not have known about.

Smarter decisions

  • Get where you're going, faster. Car? Bike? Train? Find the most efficient route for you, with your best options laid out on the map, including the time and distance for each route. And with the new real-time traffic reports and Street View previews, you’ll become a commuting ninja.

Efficient routes

  • See the world from every angle. Rich imagery takes you to notable landmarks, sends you flying above mountains in 3D, and gives you a sneak peek of businesses you plan to visit. The new “carousel” at the bottom of the map makes all this imagery easy to access, so you can explore the world with a click.

Rich imagery

With any product redesign, there may be bumps along the road. We're hoping that you're as excited as we are to navigate uncharted territory in pursuit of the perfect map. As always, we want to hear what you think as we work to improve the new Maps over time.

Take a tour of the new Google Maps

Take a tour of the new Google Maps

Here’s to many more years of mapping together!


Santa’s sleigh is ready for lift-off

Dec 24 2013 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  holidays maps

The countdown is over. Santa and his elves have been preparing around the clock for the big day, opening up new pieces of Santa’s Village throughout the month. Santa’s been skydiving, the elves catapulted presents, and Santa even sent custom voice messages to friends and family.

The elves are now reporting that the sleigh is ready for takeoff!

Join Santa as he delivers presents around the globe. Whether you’re in Sydney or South Dakota, hop in the driver’s seat by checking outSanta’s Dash(er) Board. See where Santa’s been, where he’s going, and his real-time jolly status ("mmm, those cookies were delicious!”). Don’t forget to check out the photos and local info for places he visits on the route.

Santas dashboard

For the next 24 hours, tune in on your desktop, tablet, or phone to the Santa Tracker website. Still worried you’ll miss a minute of Santa’s big day? The developer elves have been hard at work so you can:

Santa Tracker app
And follow Google Maps on Google+Facebook and Twitter to get up-to-the-minute details on Santa’s journey around the world.

With more than 300,000 kilometers to go, Santa’s got a lot of the map to cover. So set out those cookies and a glass of milk and get ready to #tracksanta!


Join Santa and his elves in the countdown to Christmas Eve

Dec 04 2013 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  holidays maps

After 11 months soaking up the sun in the tropics, Santa and his elves are back at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas Eve. In addition to making toys, they need to clear the snow off 23 elf homes, candy factories and command centers in Santa’s Village.

Google Santa Tracker - Where's Santa?

Google Santa Tracker - Where's Santa?


To join in the flurry of preparations for Christmas Eve, visit the Village every day through December 24. You'll have the chance to join the elves as they catapult presents and race with reindeer—and you'll be able to send holiday wishes to friends and family from Santa himself. The elves make a little more progress each day, so be sure to stop by the Village to see the latest.

Village-1
Come back to Santa's Village every day to see the newest games and scenes

Meanwhile, a team of Google engineers are working hard to track Santa’s sleigh with the most advanced maps and holiday technology available. On December 24, grab some cookies and apple cider and settle down in front of your computer, phone or TV to follow the big guy across the globe with our Santa Tracker. See where Santa’s going, the number of presents he’s delivered, and what he’s thinking throughout the evening.

Keep up the holiday cheer across all of your screens. Once the elves approve, we’ll launch the Google Santa Tracker app for Android in mid-December. Use your phone for on-the-go flight practice with the elves or cozy up near the fireplace with your tablet to follow Santa around the world as he delivers presents Christmas Eve. If you have Chromecast, cast from the Santa Tracker Android app to explore the Village or track his route right from your TV. Or, worried you’ll forget the big day? Download the Chrome extension to count down to Santa’s takeoff while browsing the web for holiday gifts.

Help elves
Help the elves get ready across all your devices
Santa chrome
Download the Chrome extension for easy Santa tracking from your browser

Be sure to come back to Santa’s Village each day to find new ways to celebrate—and from all of us at Google, happy holidays!


Spatialite and GeoPackage

Aug 20 2013 [Archived Version] □ Published at Into The Pudding under tags  geospatial

So I’d like to talk about some of the decisions we made in GeoPackage, as much work went in to discussing alternatives and possibilities that is not obvious from the current document. And I’m interested in opening up the dialog around specification development. This is all written as a private individual, not representing any organization […]


Githubbing the GeoPackage specification

Aug 12 2013 [Archived Version] □ Published at Into The Pudding under tags  geospatial geospatial web

In the past few months one of the main things I’ve spent time on is the new GeoPackage specification being worked on within the OGC. I was involved in the very early days of the conception, before it was picked up for the OWS-9 testbed, as I feel it has the potential to fill a big […]


Capturing the beauty and wonder of the Galapagos on Google Maps

May 23 2013 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps

The Galapagos Islands are some of the most biologically unique ecosystems in the world. Explorers and scientists alike have long studied and marveled at these islands—made famous by Charles Darwin. The Ecuadorean Government, local conservation groups and scientists are working to protect the Galapagos from threats posed by invasive species, climate change and other human impacts.

It’s critical that we share images with the world of this place in order to continue to study and preserve the islands’ unique biodiversity. Today we’re honored to announce, in partnership with Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Parks Directorate (GNPD), that we’ve collected panoramic imagery of the islands with theStreet View Trekker. These stunning images will be available on Google Maps later this year so people around the world can experience this remote archipelago.

Galapagos 1
Daniel Orellana of Charles Darwin Foundation crossing a field of ferns to reach Minas de Azufre (naturally-occurring sulfur mines) on the top of Sierra Negra, an active volcano on Isabela Island. The Google Maps team traveled for more than three hours, hiking and on horseback, to reach this remote location.

Images, like the one you see above, are also an important visual record that the CDF and GNPD will use to study and protect the islands by showing the world how these delicate environments have changed over time.

Galapagos 2
Daniel Orellana of the Charles Darwin Foundation climbs out of a lava tunnel where he was collecting imagery. The dramatic lava landscapes found on Isabela island tell the story of the formation of the Galapagos Islands.

Our 10-day adventure in the Galapagos was full of hiking, boating and diving around the islands (in hot and humid conditions) to capture 360-degree images of the unique wildlife and geological features of the islands with the Trekker. We captured imagery from 10 locations that were hand-selected by CDF and GNPD. We walked past giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, navigated through steep trails and lava fields, and picked our way down the crater of an active volcano called Sierra Negra.

Galapagos 3
A Galapagos giant tortoise crawls along the path near Googler Karin Tuxen-Bettman while she collects imagery with the Street View Trekker in Galapaguera, a tortoise breeding center, which is managed by the Galapagos National Park Service.

Life underwater in the Galapagos is just as diverse as life on land. We knew our map of the islands wouldn’t be comprehensive without exploring the ocean that surrounds them. So for the second time we teamed up with the folks at the Catlin Seaview Survey to collect underwater panoramic imagery of areas being studied by CDF and GNPD. This imagery will be used by Catlin Seaview Survey to create a visual and scientific baseline record of the marine environment surrounding the islands, allowing for any future changes to be measured and evaluated by scientists around the world.

Galapagos 4
Christophe Bailhache navigates the SVII camera through a large group of Sea Lions at Champion Island in Galapagos. Image courtesy of the Catlin Seaview Survey.

We truly believe that in order to protect these Galapagos Islands, we must understand them. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” We hope this Street View imagery not only advances the important scientific research, but also inspires you to learn more about this special place. Stay tuned for updates on this collection—the first time we’ve captured imagery from both land and sea! We can’t wait to share this amazing imagery with you later this year.