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From time to time we invite guests to post about items or interest and are pleased to have Mister Tamotsu Baba, Mayor of Namie-machi, Fukushima, Japan, join us here. - Ed.

Namie-machi is a small city in Fukushima Prefecture sitting along the coast of the Pacific. We are blessed with both ocean and mountains, and known as a place where you can experience both the beauty of the sea and the forests. Tragically, however, since the nuclear accident caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, all of Namie-machi’s 21,000 townspeople have had to flee their homes.

Two years have passed since the disaster, but people still aren’t allowed to enter Namie-machi. Many of the displaced townspeople have asked to see the current state of their city, and there are surely many people around the world who want a better sense of how the nuclear incident affected surrounding communities.

Working with Google, we were able to drive Street View cars through Namie-machi to capture panoramic images of the abandoned city exactly as it stands today. Starting today, this Street View imagery is available on Google Maps and the Memories for the Future site, so anyone from Namie or around the world can view it.



Here is one of Namie-machi’s main streets, which we often used for outdoor events like our big Ten Days of Autumn festival that saw 300 street stalls and 100,000 visitors.



Many buildings, like this one in the foreground, collapsed during the earthquake, and we still have not been able to remove them. We are also unable to repair damaged buildings and shops nor prepare them for the potential impact of further aftershocks.



This image shows an area located one kilometer inland from the Pacific Ocean. In the distance you can see Ukedo Elementary School. Nearby Ukedo Harbor once proudly boasted 140 fishing boats and 500 buildings, but suffered some of the worst tsunami damage. After being set off-limits, we have not been able to clean up the wreckage on the side of the road, including the many fishing boats that were washed several kilometers inland.

Ever since the March disaster, the rest of the world has been moving forward, and many places in Japan have started recovering. But in Namie-machi time stands still. With the lingering nuclear hazard, we have only been able to do cursory work for two whole years. We would greatly appreciate it if you viewed this Street View imagery to understand the current state of Namie-machi and the tremendous gravity of the situation.

Those of us in the older generation feel that we received this town from our forebearers, and we feel great pain that we cannot pass it down to our children. It has become our generation’s duty to make sure future generations understand the city’s history and culture—maybe even those who will not remember the Fukushima nuclear accident. We want this Street View imagery to become a permanent record of what happened to Namie-machi in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.

Finally, I want to make a renewed commitment to recovering from the nuclear hazard. It may take many years and many people’s help, but we will never give up taking back our hometown.

(Cross-posted and translated from the Google Japan Blog)

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For the past four years, Google has sponsored an initiative called Computer Science for High School (CS4HS). The mission of this aptly named collaboration is simple: to bring computer science professional development to educators through hands-on workshops. In collaboration with universities, colleges and technical schools, we have helped K-12 educators bring CS into their classrooms around the world; to date, we have helped train more than 6,000 teachers worldwide—from Canada to China, Germany to New Zealand, our programs reach more and more countries with every iteration.

Today, we are pleased to announce the recipients of the 5th annual CS4HS Google grant. (To see the full list, visit our site.) As our program grows, we are working to engage as many teachers as possible in our CS efforts. To that end, this year we are offering four free MOOC courses for educators who may not be physically close to one of our workshops, but who are eager to learn the basics of computer science. In addition, we are launching our new CS4HS Community page; join the conversation and help shape the next generation of computer scientists!


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From cracking the human genome to advancing medical research through computer games, British social entrepreneurs have a proud history of using technology to make the world a better place.

Last year, we launched the Global Impact Awards to support nonprofits using technology to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems. We gave $23 million to seven organizations working on projects ranging from aerial technology that protects wildlife to data algorithms that ensure more girls and minorities get placed in advanced math and science classes.

Today, as the next step in the Impact Awards, we’re kicking off our first Global Impact Challenge in the U.K., inviting British nonprofits to tell us how they would use technology to transform lives. Four nonprofits will each receive a £500,000 Global Impact Award, as well as Chromebooks and technical assistance from Googlers to help make their project a reality.

Applications open today, and registered British nonprofits are invited to apply online at g.co/impactchallenge. We’ll review applications and announce 10 finalists on May 22. At that point, people across the U.K. can learn more about the projects of the top 10 finalists, donate to the ones they like and cast a vote for fan favorite. On June 3, the top 10 finalists will pitch their concepts to a judging panel that includes us (Matt Brittin and Jacquelline Fuller), Sir Richard Branson, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Jilly Forster. The three awardees and the fan favorite will be revealed at the event, which will take place at Google London.

Technology can help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges and we’re eager to back innovators who are finding new ways to make an impact. Today we’re starting the hunt in the U.K., but we also know that nonprofits all over the world are using techy approaches to develop new solutions in their sector. Who knows, the Global Impact Challenge might head your way next.


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There are few places (if any) in the world where you could find urban art, zoomorphic whistles* and Hungarian poetry in a single place—except, of course, on the Internet.

Today 30 new partners are joining the Google Art Project, contributing nearly 2,000 diverse works including contemporary art from Latin America, ancient art from China, rare Japanese paintings and Palaeolithic flint heads from Spain.

One highlight of the new collection is a project to capture the growing trend of urban art and graffiti in Brazil. More than 100 works from walls, doors and galleries in São Paulo have been photographed and will be included in the Art Project. The pieces were chosen by a group of journalists, artists and graffiti experts and include artists such as Speto, Kobra and Space Invader, as well as images of São Paulo’s most famous building-size murals. You can see the contrast in styles in the Compare tool and image below.


Photography features strongly in the works our partners are bringing online this time around. The Fundacion MAPFRE in Spain showcases one of the largest collections with more than 300 photos from a number of renowned photographers. For example, you can explore Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide’s black and white images of indigenous Mexican culture inspired by themes of ritual, death and feminism.

The Art Project is also becoming a home to rare and precious items which move beyond paintings. Petőfi Literary Museum in Hungary has contributed the Nemzeti Dal or “National Song,” a Hungarian poem which is said to have been the inspiration for the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The original document has rarely been seen in public to prevent humidity and light fading the script further. Online now for the first time, it can be explored by anyone in the world.

With 40,000+ artworks to explore from more than 200 museums in more than 40 countries, we look forward to seeing these new works feature in hundreds of thousands of user galleries you have created to date. Keep an eye on our Google+ page for more details about the new collections.

*ceramic whistles in the shape of animals!

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Every day we all see, hear or think of things we need to remember. Usually we grab a pad of sticky-notes, scribble a reminder and put it on the desk, the fridge or the relevant page of a magazine. Unfortunately, if you’re like me you probably often discover that the desk, fridge or magazine wasn’t such a clever place to leave the note after all...it’s rarely where you need it when you need it.

To solve this problem we’ve created Google Keep. With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what’s important to you. Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand.

If it’s more convenient to speak than to type that’s fine—Keep transcribes voice memos for you automatically. There’s super-fast search to find what you’re looking for and when you’re finished with a note you can archive or delete it.



Changing priorities isn’t a problem: just open Keep on your Android phone or tablet (there’s a widget so you can have Keep front and center all the time) and drag your notes around to reflect what matters. You can choose the color for each note too.

Pro tip: for adding thoughts quickly without unlocking your device there's a lock screen widget (on devices running Android 4.2+).


Google Keep is available on Google Play for devices running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich and above. You can access, edit and create new notes on the web at http://drive.google.com/keep and in the coming weeks you'll be able to do the same directly from Google Drive.

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Last month, the Web Speech API brought voice recognition to Chrome users in more than 30 languages. We thought it would be fun to demonstrate this new technology by using an old one: silent film.

The Peanut Gallery lets you add intertitles to old black-and-white movie clips just by talking out loud while you watch them. Create a film and share it with friends, so they can bring out their inner screenwriters too.



We hope that developers will find many uses for the Web Speech API, both fun and practical—including new ways to navigate, search, enter text, and interact with the web. We can’t wait to see how people use it.



(Cross-posted from the Chrome blog)

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Most of us have a bucket list of the places we want to visit in our lifetime. If you’re like me, the list is pretty long—to be honest I’d be lucky to get to all of mine. Google Maps has a bucket list too, and today we’re checking off a couple of our favorites so we can make our map more comprehensive and share it with you. And if tall mountains are your thing, you’re in luck.

Now you can explore some of the most famous mountains on Earth, including Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Elbrus (Europe) and Everest Base Camp (Asia) on Google Maps. These mountains belong to the group of peaks known as the Seven Summits—the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. While there’s nothing quite like standing on the mountain, with Google Maps you can instantly transport yourself to the top of these peaks and enjoy the sights without all of the avalanches, rock slides, crevasses, and dangers from altitude and weather that mountaineers face.

Start your adventure on Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, the dormant volcano known as the Roof of Africa. See amazing views of the highest freestanding mountain in the world covered in snow just three degrees south of the equator.


At 19,341 ft, Uhuru is the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro

Next, travel to the tallest mountain in Europe, Russia’s Mount Elbrus, and see huts made from Soviet-era fuel barrels. Climbers have to take refuge in the huts built on the mountain when the weather turns wretched.

Get imagery of Mt. Elbrus and all of the other mountains on Google Maps on your iPhone and Android device

Explore Argentina’s mighty Aconcagua, the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. See how a base camp is set up amongst the exposed rock in Plaza Argentina and how expeditions eat, camp and prepare for their ascent.


A permanent park ranger camp, as well as a helipad and medical center are available during climbing seasons at Plaza Argentina

Finally, make your way to Everest Base Camp, where expeditions stage their attempts to reach the top of the world. Along the ascent, steal glimpses of the snow-capped Himalayan mountain peaks and the awesome Khumbu glacier.

The route to Everest Base Camp is one of the most popular trekking routes in the Himalayas and is visited by thousands of trekkers each year

This imagery was collected with a simple lightweight tripod and digital camera with a fisheye lens—equipment typically used for our Business Photos program. See the slideshow below and our Lat Long Blog for a behind-the-scenes look at the regular Googlers that actually climbed these mountains to capture this stunning photography.


Behind-the-scenes shots of the expedition team

Whether you’re scoping out the mountain for your next big adventure or exploring it from the comfort and warmth of your home, we hope you enjoy these views from the top of the world. See more of our favorite shots on the Street View Gallery. We’ll also be hosting a Hangout on Air today at 10:00 am PT where we’ll share stories from our expeditions and answer questions about this special collection.

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Today marks the debut of the new Think Insights, Google’s hub for marketing insights and inspiration for advertisers and agencies. On google.com/think, you can learn about the latest research in digital marketing, be inspired by creative brand campaigns, and find useful products and tools. You’ll also find industry-leading case studies and Google’s latest research, strategic perspectives, interviews with innovators and experts and more—all to help you make the most of the web.

Every week, we’ll feature content that spans industries and interests. Here’s a snapshot of our top stories:

  • In Understanding the Full Value of Mobile, learn how sporting goods industry leader adidas worked with digital performance agency iProspect to understand how mobile drives value beyond mobile commerce, particularly in-store sales. The campaign proved that mobile brought a 680% incremental increase in ROI.
  • The Hyundai Elantra: Driveway Decision Maker campaign lets you watch your favorite Hyundai model drive right to your driveway, using a combination of Google Maps Street View, projection mapping and real-time 3D animation.
  • YouTube Ads Leaderboard shows which YouTube ads most moved audiences this month, through a winning combination of savvy promotion and smart creative strategy; a new list is featured each month.

In our Perspectives section, we tap our own experts—as well as heads of industry, digital visionaries and Wharton professors—to lend their insights and analyses on the topics that matter most to marketers. The Product & Tools section contains information about our products and advertising platforms, as well as Planning Tools like the popular Real-Time Insights finder.

We built google.com/think to help you do it all—stay up-to-date on the latest in digital marketing, arm yourself with data to support your business cases and create inspiring campaigns. Explore the site now, and if you like what you discover, don't forget to subscribe to our Think Letter for a monthly round-up of our most popular content.

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For decades, the World War II codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park was one of the U.K.’s most closely guarded secrets. Today, it’s a poignant place to visit and reflect on the achievements of those who worked there. Their outstanding feats of intellect, coupled with breakthrough engineering and dogged determination, were crucial to the Allied victory—and in parallel, helped kickstart the computing age.

We’ve long been keen to help preserve and promote the importance of Bletchley Park. Today we’re announcing two new initiatives that we hope will bring its story to a wider online audience.

First, we’re welcoming the Bletchley Park Trust as the latest partner to join Google’s Cultural Institute. Their digital exhibit features material from Bletchley’s archives, providing a vivid snapshot of the work that went on cracking secret messages and the role this played in shortening the war. Included are images of the Bombe machines that helped crack the Enigma code; and of Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic computer, used to crack the German High Command code—including this message showing the Germans had been successfully duped about the location for the D-Day invasion.


Second, as a followup to our film about Colossus, we’re pleased to share a personal story of the Bombe, as told by one of its original operators, Jean Valentine. Women like Jean made up the majority of Bletchley Park’s personnel—ranging from cryptographers, to machine operators, to clerks. In her role operating the Bombe, Jean directly helped to decipher messages encoded by Enigma. In this film Jean gives us a firsthand account of life at Bletchley Park during the war, and demonstrates how the Bombe worked using a replica machine now on show at the museum.



We hope you enjoy learning more about Bletchley Park and its fundamental wartime role and legacy. For more glimpses of history, explore the Cultural Institute’s other exhibitions on www.google.com/culturalinstitute.

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We’re living in a new kind of computing environment. Everyone has a device, sometimes multiple devices. It’s been a long time since we have had this rate of change—it probably hasn’t happened since the birth of personal computing 40 years ago. To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus—otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact. So today we’re announcing some more closures, bringing the total to 70 features or services closed since our spring cleaning began in 2011:

  • Apps Script will be deprecating the GUI Builder and five UiApp widgets in order to focus efforts on Html Service. The rest of the Ui Service will not be affected. The GUI Builder will continue to be available until September 16, 2013. For more information see our post on the Google Apps Developer Blog.
  • CalDAV API will become available for whitelisted developers, and will be shut down for other developers on September 16, 2013. Most developers’ use cases are handled well by Google Calendar API, which we recommend using instead. If you’re a developer and the Calendar API won’t work for you, please fill out this form to tell us about your use case and request access to whitelisted-only CalDAV API.
  • Google Building Maker helped people to make three-dimensional building models for Google Earth and Maps. It will be retired on June 1, but users are still able to access and export their models from the 3D Warehouse. We’ll continue to expand the availability of comprehensive and accurate new 3D imagery on Google Earth, and people can still use Google Map Maker to add building information such as outlines and heights to Google Maps.
  • Google Cloud Connect is a plug-in to help people work in the cloud by automatically saving Microsoft Office files from Windows PCs in Google Drive. But installing Google Drive on your desktop achieves the same thing more effectively—and Drive works not only on Windows, but also on Mac, Android and iOS devices. Existing users will no longer be able to use Cloud Connect as of April 30.
  • We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
  • Beginning next week, we're ending support for the Google Voice App for Blackberry. For Blackberry users who want to continue using Google Voice, we recommend they use our HTML5 app, which is more secure and easier for us to keep up to date. Our HTML5 site is compatible with users with Blackberry version 6 and newer.
  • We’re deprecating our Search API for Shopping, which has enabled developers to create shopping apps based on Google’s Product Search data. While we believe in the value this offering provided, we’re shifting our focus to concentrate on creating a better shopping experience for users through Google Shopping. We’ll shut the API down completely on September 16, 2013.
  • Beginning today we’ll no longer sell or provide updates for Snapseed Desktop for Macintosh and Windows. Existing customers will continue to be able to download the software and can contact us for support. We’ll continue to offer the Snapseed mobile app on iOS and Android for free.

These changes are never easy. But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on building great products that really help in their lives.

Update March 15, 2013: We worked with the developers who provide 98 percent of our current CalDAV traffic to assure access to the CalDAV API, which means many popular products will not be impacted. We remain committed to supporting open protocols like CalDAV.

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Sergey and I first heard about Android back in 2004, when Andy Rubin came to visit us at Google. He believed that aligning standards around an open-source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry. Most people thought he was nuts. But his insight immediately struck a chord because at the time it was extremely painful developing services for mobile devices. We had a closet full of more than 100 phones and were building our software pretty much device by device. It was nearly impossible for us to make truly great mobile experiences.

Fast forward to today. The pace of innovation has never been greater, and Android is the most used mobile operating system in the world: we have a global partnership of over 60 manufacturers; more than 750 million devices have been activated globally; and 25 billion apps have now been downloaded from Google Play. Pretty extraordinary progress for a decade’s work. Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android—and with a really strong leadership team in place—Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!

Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use—and he loves a big bet. Take Chrome, for example. In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser. Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast thanks to its speed, simplicity and security. So while Andy’s a really hard act to follow, I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward.

Today we’re living in a new computing environment. People are really excited about technology and spending a lot of money on devices. This is driving faster adoption than we have ever seen before. The Nexus program—developed in conjunction with our partners Asus, HTC, LG and Samsung—has become a beacon of innovation for the industry, and services such as Google Now have the potential to really improve your life. We’re getting closer to a world where technology takes care of the hard work—discovery, organization, communication—so that you can get on with what makes you happiest… living and loving. It’s an exciting time to be at Google.

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Algorithmic competitions are to programmers what tournaments are to tennis players: an opportunity to feel the rush of competition, learn new techniques and face off against their best counterparts from around the globe. Code Jam, Google's worldwide online programming competition, gives developers a chance to use their favorite programming languages to solve algorithmic problems created by a team of contest champions at Google.

Our 10th annual global Code Jam kicks off next month, starting with a qualification round on April 12. After three more online rounds, the top 25 contestants will be invited to Google’s London office on August 16 for a final matchup and a chance to win the coveted title of Code Jam Champion.

With more than 20,000 participants last year, Code Jam has grown leaps and bounds since it began in 2003*. To celebrate the competition's 10th anniversary, we’ve raised the stakes: the winner will claim $15,000, and will automatically qualify for the 2014 Code Jam finals to defend his or her title.

If you’re up to the challenge of solving tough problems and coding elegant solutions (and perhaps debugging less elegant solutions), then register now. Want to warm up for the Qualification Round with a problem or two? How about finding the margin of safety for contestants on a television show, optimizing a tower defense game or swinging through the jungle on vines? You have a whole month to prepare yourself for the first hurdle on Friday, April 12.



*To the mathematically inclined (all of our competitors), 2003-2013 sounds like enough time for 11 Code Jams. Nevertheless, this one will actually be our tenth global contest: we went through a major format change between 2006 and 2008, and there wasn't a global contest in 2007.

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A diverse workforce is critical in helping us build products that can help people change the world. That includes diversity of all life experiences, including gender.

Women were some of the first programmers and continue to make a major impact on the programming world today. We think it’s important to highlight the great work women are doing in computer science, to help provide role models for young women thinking about careers in computing.

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and as one of our contributions to the celebration, we’re proud to support Voices Global Conference, presented by Global Tech Women. As part of this 24-hour live streamed event, Google will provide more than a dozen hours of free talks featuring women working in computer science, beginning today. To access the full schedule and our ongoing broadcasts, see our section on the Voices website, which will be updated throughout the day.

The Voices Global Conference is the brainchild of Global Tech Women’s founder Deanna Kosaraju, who also started India’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2010 with grant support from Google. The India conferences, which provide a forum for women to share their professional and research work in computing, have grown rapidly, with more than 800 attendees in 2012. So when Deanna proposed this global, 24-hour streamed conference, we knew it was a great opportunity to help women and other audiences around the world learn more and get inspired about the contributions women are making to technology and computer science.

Our sessions will feature a range of material, from new episodes of the Women Techmakers series and interviews with women leaders like the head of Lexity India Mani Abrol, to discussions focusing on technologies like Google Compute Engine. For a sneak peek of the type of content we’ll be providing, check out Pavni’s story below, produced in conjunction with PBS’ MAKERS series. I’ve provided advice to many young people in India interested in studying computer science and pursuing their own dreams—so Pavni’s tenacity, coupled with the encouragement and support she received from her father, resonated with me. We’re excited to share her story and others like it alongside technical conversations and discussions on women in technology as part of this conference.



I hope you’ll join us for our sessions—and in the meantime, you can learn more about our efforts to support women at Google and beyond.

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Last year, we started a program to partner with advertisers and agencies to re-imagine how brands tell stories in a connected world. Project Re: Brief set out to recreate some of the advertising industry’s most iconic, classic campaigns using the latest technology tools. This year we’re expanding that program to work with some of today’s most iconic brands and innovative marketers, in our new project: Art, Copy & Code.

Art, Copy & Code is a series of projects and experiments to show how creativity and technology can work hand in hand. Some of these will include familiar brands like Volkswagen, Burberry and adidas—projects developed in partnership with their creative teams and agencies. Others will be creative experiments with innovative filmmakers, creative directors and technologists to explore how brands can connect with consumers through a whole range of digital tools—including ads, mobile apps and social experiences. Our first partner project is a new social driving experience—Volkswagen Smileage.

Building off their 2012 campaign, “It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them,” Volkswagen Smileage is a mobile app and web service that aims to add a little bit of fun to every drive, from your daily commutes to holiday road trips. The app measures the fun factor of each trip using a metric called “smileage,” based on signals like weather, traffic, location, time and social interactions (e.g., a long drive on a sunny Saturday afternoon might accumulate more smileage than a morning commute in the snow). You can use it with any car, not just Volkswagens.

Powered by the new Google+ sign-in, you can choose to share Smileage experience with friends and family. For example, during a road trip, photos and videos taken by you and your co-passengers can be automatically added to a live interactive map. The inspiration for the service came from a recent study showing that every day, 144 million Americans on average spend 52 minutes in a car—76 percent of them alone. We wanted to make that time a more shareable experience. Volkswagen Smileage will be available soon in beta—you can sign up on this webpage for early access.


We’ll have many more experiments to share in the Art, Copy & Code project soon—subscribe for updates at ArtCopyCode.com. We’re committed to investing in technology and tools over the long term to help brands and their agencies succeed not just today, but in a digital future that will look very different.

If you’re planning on attending SXSW, stop by the Google Playground on March 9 to see demos of these experiments, or attend our talk on March 10.

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With nearly 5,000 earthquakes a year, it’s important for people in Japan to have crisis preparedness and response information available at their fingertips. And from our own research, we know that when a disaster strikes, people turn to the Internet for more information about what is happening.

With this in mind, we’re launching Google Public Alerts today in Japan—the first international expansion of a service we debuted last year in the United States. Google Public Alerts is a platform designed to provide accurate and relevant emergency alerts when and where you’re searching for them online.

Relevant earthquake and tsunami warnings for Japan will now appear on Google Search, Google Maps and Google Now when you search online during a time of crisis. If a major earthquake alert is issued in Kanagawa Prefecture, for example, the alert information will appear on your desktop and mobile screens when you search for relevant information on Google Search and Google Maps.

Example of a Google Search result on a tablet showing a tsunami warning

Example of a tsunami warning on Google Maps

If you click “詳細” (“More info”) right under the alert, you’ll see more details about the announcement, including the full description from the Japan Meteorological Agency, a link to their site, and other useful information like observed arrival times and wave heights for tsunamis.

Example of how a tsunami alert would work in Fukushima

And when you open Google Now on your Android device, recommended actions and information will be tailored to where you are. For example, if you happen to be in Tokyo at a time when a tsunami alert is issued, Google Now will show you a card containing information about the tsunami alert, as well as any available evacuation instructions:

Example of a tsunami warning card on Google Now

We’re able to provide Public Alerts in Japan thanks to the Japan Meteorological Agency, whose publication of data enables Google and others to make critical and life-saving information more widely available.

We hope our technology, including Public Alerts, will help people better prepare for future crises and create more far-reaching support for crisis recovery. This is why in Japan, Google has newly partnered with 14 Japanese prefectures and cities, including seven from the Tōhoku region, to make their government data available online and more easily accessible to users, both during a time of crisis and after. The devastating Tōhoku Earthquake struck Japan only two years ago, and the region is still slowly recovering from the tragedy.

We look forward to expanding Google Public Alerts to more countries and working with more warning providers soon. We also encourage potential partners to read our FAQ and to consider putting data in an open format, such as the Common Alerting Protocol. To learn more about Public Alerts, visit our Public Alerts homepage.

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Accessing digital entertainment should be simple, whether you like to read books on your tablet, listen to music on your phone and computer, or watch movies on all three. That’s why one year ago today we launched Google Play, where you can find and enjoy your favorite music, movies, books and apps on your Android phone and tablet, or on the web.

Google Play has grown rapidly in the last year, bringing you more content in more languages and places around the globe. In addition to offering more than 700,000 apps and games, we’ve partnered with all of the major music companies, movie studios and publishers to bring you the music, movies, TV shows, books and magazines you love. And we’ve added more ways for you to buy them, including paying through your phone bill and gift cards, which we're beginning to roll out in the U.K. this week.

Since no birthday is complete without presents, we’re celebrating with a bunch of special offers across the store on songs, TV shows, movies and books. We’re even offering a collection of games with some fun birthday surprises created by developers.

It’s been a busy year, but we’re just getting started. We look forward to many more years of bringing you the best in entertainment!


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Our users trust Google with a lot of very important data, whether it’s emails, photos, documents, posts or videos. We work exceptionally hard to keep that information safe—hiring some of the best security experts in the world, investing millions of dollars in technology and baking security protections such as 2-step verification into our products.

Of course, people don’t always use our services for good, and it’s important that law enforcement be able to investigate illegal activity. This may involve requests for personal information. When we receive these requests, we:

  • scrutinize them carefully to ensure they satisfy the law and our policies;
  • seek to narrow requests that are overly broad;
  • notify users when appropriate so they can contact the entity requesting the information or consult a lawyer; and
  • require that government agencies use a search warrant if they’re seeking search query information or private content, like Gmail and documents, stored in a Google Account.

When conducting national security investigations, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation can issue a National Security Letter (NSL) to obtain identifying information about a subscriber from telephone and Internet companies. The FBI has the authority to prohibit companies from talking about these requests. But we’ve been trying to find a way to provide more information about the NSLs we get—particularly as people have voiced concerns about the increase in their use since 9/11.

Starting today, we’re now including data about NSLs in our Transparency Report. We’re thankful to U.S. government officials for working with us to provide greater insight into the use of NSLs. Visit our page on user data requests in the U.S. and you’ll see, in broad strokes, how many NSLs for user data Google receives, as well as the number of accounts in question. In addition, you can now find answers to some common questions we get asked about NSLs on our Transparency Report FAQ.


You'll notice that we're reporting numerical ranges rather than exact numbers. This is to address concerns raised by the FBI, Justice Department and other agencies that releasing exact numbers might reveal information about investigations. We plan to update these figures annually.



(Cross-posted on the Public Policy Blog)

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An excellent guide often best brings an art gallery or museum’s collections to life. Starting this week, we’re hoping to bring this experience online with “Art Talks,” a series of Hangouts on Air on our Google Art Project Google+ page. Each month, curators, museum directors, historians and educators from some of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions will reveal the hidden stories behind particular works, examine the curation process and provide insights into particular masterpieces or artists.

The first guided visit will be held this Wednesday, March 6 at 8pm ET from The Museum of Modern Art. Deborah Howes, Director of Digital Learning, along with a panel of artists and students, will discuss how to teach art online. To post a question, visit the event page. If this talk falls too late for you to tune in live, you can watch afterward on our Google Art Project YouTube channel.

The next talk is from London. On March 20, Caroline Campbell and Arnika Schmidt from the National Gallery will discuss depictions of the female nude. Details are available on the Art Project’s event page. In April we’ll host a panel examining one of the Google Art Project’s popular gigapixel works, Bruegel’s “Tower of Babel,” featuring Peter Parshall, curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.



Additional talks are planned by curators from high-profile institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.

Google Art Project aims to make art more accessible to all. We hope that Art Talks is the next step in bringing art to your armchair, wherever you are in the world, with just a click of a button. Stay tuned to the Art Project and Cultural Institute Google+ pages for more information on dates and times of these online lectures.