GIS News

Myth or monster? Explore Loch Ness with Street View

Apr 20 2015 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps travel

Like the world’s best legends, the Loch Ness Monster transcends the everyday and exists at the edges of possibility. It rises above the sightings and the hoaxes; the claims and counter-claims; the tourism, the nationalism—and even the assassination plots. It lives in the telling of stories. Whether or not you believe, most people hold a romanticized vision of the creature that, legend has it, plumbs the depths of the Loch. Affectionately known as “Nessie,” she exists in folklore, dances in childrens’ imaginations, and seeps into our society and teachings, inspiring everything from pop music to pop culture to pulp fiction.

Loch Ness doodle gif

In 1934, the “Surgeon’s Photograph” was released, claiming to show the monster in the misty waters of the lake. It’s the most iconic photo in the history of Loch Ness—and may be one of the most elaborate hoaxes of our age. Today, to celebrate the anniversary of its release, we're bringing 360-degree Street View imagery of Loch Ness to Google Maps, so you can go in search of Nessie yourself.

Sail across the freshwater lake and take in its haunting beauty, made darker still by the peat particles found in its waters. Let the Loch unlock the spirit of your imagination, where the rippling water, tricks of the light, and drifting logs bring the legend of Nessie to life. Adrian Shine, leader of the Loch Ness & Morar Project, has been engaged in fieldwork in the Highlands since 1973 and was an integral part of the Street View collection. As a true Loch Ness expert, Shine has logged more than 1,000 Nessie sightings and offers scientific explanations for why people claim to have seen Scotland’s mysterious cryptid.

Explore Loch Ness in Google Maps

Explore Loch Ness in Google Maps

Formed of a series of interrelated bodies of water, including the River Oich to the south and the Bona Narrows to the north, Loch Ness stretches for 23 miles southwest of Inverness. Although it’s neither the largest Scottish loch by surface area nor depth, it is the largest by volume, containing more freshwater than all the lakes of England and Wales combined. And at almost 800 feet deep, there’s an entire world below the surface, giving rise to the Nessie legend.

Loch-Ness-diver.width-1600-1.jpg
A diver from the Catlin Seaview Survey collecting underwater imagery of Loch Ness

To take you on a tour of what lies beneath, our partners at the Catlin Seaview Survey dived deep under the surface of the lake, collecting imagery along the way. You can imagine Nessie nestling within these dark, peat-filled waters, waiting for the right moment to breach the surface into the Scottish sunlight above.

Wherever you stand on the Nessie debate, the legend lives on—even in the digital era. There are more searches for Loch Ness than there are for other U.K. institutions like Buckingham Palace and the Peak District. And as we celebrate Loch Ness with today’s Doodle, we hope you can enjoy some of the most history-laden and breathtaking imagery the highlands have to offer with Street View in Google Maps.


Ho Ho Ho! Track Santa around the world with Google’s Santa Tracker

Dec 24 2014 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  holidays maps

After 23 days of preparation, the elves are finally ready for Santa’s annual journey around the globe. They’ve taught each other how to say "Santa Claus" in Swedish, guided their friends through mazes with code, brushed up on their geography, and learned about organizations making a difference worldwide. It’s been a busy month, but Santa’s sleigh is now ready for lift-off!

Santa Tracker
The elves brushed up on coding fundamentals with blockly maze games
Santa Tracker ornaments
The elves decorated their trees with ornaments about organizations making a difference

Each stop on Santa’s journey offers more to explore—discover 360-degree imagery, Wikipedia snippets, geography facts, and updates on how far Santa’s current location is from yours (take note—Santa’s path is not a direct one!). Come back and visit google.com/santatracker throughout the night for more surprises, like sleigh selfies or a latitude and longitude game to deliver presents.

Santa Tracker map
Follow Santa on any screen—desktop, phone, tablet, or TV
Santa Android Wear

If you’re on the ho-ho-go, download the Santa Tracker App for Android to keep track of Santa on your phone or tablet. With the Android app, watch Santa’s journey on your TV using Chromecast, or on your wrist with Android Wear (especially handy when wrapping last-minute gifts). And, you can always search for Santa on www.google.com or on Google Maps, and get real-time location updates with Google Now in the Google App.

Santa’s got a long and exciting night ahead of him before heading back to the North Pole. Grab some eggnog, set out the cookies, and join Google Maps on Google+Facebook and Twitter to #tracksanta!


Seven traffic tips to get you to the Thanksgiving table

Nov 18 2014 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  holidays maps

Thanksgiving means gearing up for a turkey feast, Thanksgiving Day parades, local Turkey Trots and annual football showdowns. It also means braving some of the worst holiday traffic conditions of the year.

You’ve got enough on your plate this Thanksgiving without having to worry about traffic, too. So, Google Maps looked at Thanksgiving traffic conditions over the last two years for 21 cities across the U.S.1 to find the most useful information to make your holiday trip a little easier.

Whether you’re traveling near or far, Google Maps’ traffic tips will help you navigate the roads like a pro, so you’ll be feasting on Turkey Day delights with friends and family in no time. Here are seven tips in pictures to guide you through the holiday:

1. Avoid traveling on Wednesday:

Thanksgiving traffic 1

2. But if you must leave on Wednesday:

Thanksgiving traffic 2

3. Good news for local travelers—Thanksgiving Day traffic is a breeze:

Thanksgiving traffic 3

4. Travel back home on Sunday, not Saturday:

Thanksgiving traffic 4

5. Expect to spend more time in traffic than average if you live in these three cities: 

Philadelphia, Austin and Washington, D.C. saw the three biggest increases in traffic during Thanksgiving week.

Thanksgiving traffic 5

6. Get these three items ahead of time: 

Last-minute runs to the corner store can be unavoidable as you prep for the big day, but not all last minute trips are created equal.

Thanksgiving traffic 6

7. Leave extra time for Christmas shopping:

Thanksgiving traffic 7

Your biggest worry this Thanksgiving should be whether to go for the cranberry sauce or gravy. And with these traffic tips in hand, plus real-time traffic info provided by Google Maps on Android or iOS, you’ll be spending less time in traffic and more time with the people you care about this Thanksgiving. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

1 Google Maps looked at 21 cities across the U.S. from the Monday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after Thanksgiving for both 2012 & 2013: Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington, D.C.


Walk like an Egyptian with Street View in Google Maps

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

Candlelight flickering on a stone wall covered in hieroglyphs. A proud queen brought low by the bite of a snake. Reeds rustling along a river, waiting to be turned into papyrus, or maybe a basket. The civilization of ancient Egypt stood for thousands of years and left behind a rich legacy of architecture, art, medicine, politics, culture and more. Today, it looms large in our imagination as the home of Cleopatra, Ptolemy, Tutankhamun, people who worshipped cats as gods and buried their embalmed dead in tombs filled with treasures and sustenance for the afterlife.

Now the Egypt of your imagination can be brought to life with new Street View imagery in Google Maps, and you can take a virtual walk among the stunning monuments and rich history of this ancient civilization.

Start where most tourists do: at the Pyramids of Giza, which rise from the vast expanse of the Sahara like man-made mountains. Just kilometers from the bustling, modern city of Cairo, the Pyramids have stood for nearly 5,000 years, a testament to the ingenuity and ambition of the ancient Egyptian people.

Explore the Pyramids of Giza with Google Maps

Explore the Pyramids of Giza with Google Maps

The Giza Necropolis is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, and is home to the last standing wonder of the ancient world: the Great Pyramid. Built as a tomb and a symbol of eternity for the Pharoah Khufu, it stands 139 meters high (the height of the world’s highest roller coaster!) and was the tallest man-made structure on Earth for 3,800 years. Look beyond it to the west, and you’ll see the pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure, built by Khufu's son and grandson.

Now turn east to the Great Sphinx, the oldest and largest known monumental sculpture in the world. With the body of a lion and the head of a human, it measures a grand 73 meters long and 20 meters high. Literally translating to “Father of Dread,” this mythical creature is believed to resemble Pharaoh Khafre, who was the ruler at the time of construction.

In addition to the Giza Necropolis, you can explore The Pyramid of Djoser, the ancient site of the world’s very first Pyramid designed by the great Egyptian Architect Imhotep in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara.

Other sites you can check out on your virtual tour include: Abu Mena, one of the oldest sites of Christianity in Egypt—the church, baptistry, basilicas and monasteries; the Hanging Church, one of the oldest Coptic Churches in the world; the Cairo Citadel, a medieval Islamic fortification and historic site; and the Citadel of Qaitbay, a 15th-century defensive fortress on the Mediterranean coast.

If wandering through the imagery of these historical sites has piqued your interest in Egyptology, head over to the Google Cultural Institute, where you can explore the treasures of ancient Egypt through a series of drawings, historic photographs and artifacts from the famed sites.

The Pyramids of Giza have survived nearly five millennia and are the planet’s oldest man-made wonder. Now their legacy—and the legacy of many other sites of ancient Egyptian culture—are preserved in a new way with panoramic and immersive Street View imagery. We hope you’ll take a moment to step back in time and explore what was once known as the Gift of the Nile.


Making of Maps: Reaching a milestone

Sep 03 2014 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  maps

The is the first of several posts taking you behind the scenes of how Google makes its Maps. Stay tuned to the Lat Long blog over the next few days for the rest of the series. —Ed.

When you head out your door, you’ve got directions in your pocket—whether you’re driving to your aunt’s place in the mountains, cycling to a new biergarten or taking the train downtown. For Google Maps to get you there, it needs to be a digital mirror of the real world. But the real world is always changing. So to make sure your map is an accurate reflection of your world, we started Ground Truth, a project that brings the freshest, most relevant information to Google Maps.

Today, we’ve reached our 50th Ground Truth country with the addition of five new countries: Taiwan, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, and the last regions of Russia. We’re also rolling out Google Map Maker and Report a Problem—our crowdsourcing map tools—to Taiwan, Russia and Malaysia, giving anyone in those locations the ability to share and contribute their local knowledge directly to Google Maps.

For these countries, that means clearer, more detailed depictions of points of interest like walking paths in parks or department labels in universities, a reworking of the road network with new street names and turn restrictions, and faster updates to the map. In the unique case of Poland and Romania, both of which have Map Maker communities that were instrumental in building the map from scratch, it also means providing more resources to bring the same level of map detail to all regions in these places.

Over the next week, we’re pulling back the curtain to show you how Ground Truth and Map Maker work together to build Google Maps. Much of the magic behind Maps comes from people—from the Googlers who spend hours perfecting every road in the world, to the users who come together to improve the quality of maps in their local communities. To build the map, we have to gather high-quality information; in the next post, we’ll show you what that process looks like—and show off a new mapping technology. Stay tuned to the Lat Long Blog for more on how Google Maps is made!


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!