Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture
Wandering in the footsteps of the polar bear with Google Maps
February 27, 2014
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.
In Inuit poetry, the polar bear is known as
, 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.
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:
, home to one of the largest polar bear populations on the planet. With the help of outfitters
, the Google Maps team mounted the Street View Trekker onto a specially designed “
,” 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.
View Larger Map
One of Churchill, Manitoba’s Polar Bears on Street View
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 International’s
We also use the Google Maps API to support our
, 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.
Mapping the communities of Canada’s Arctic
Google’s trip north builds on work they’ve done in the Arctic communities of
. In the town of Churchill, the Google Maps team conducted a community
, which let participants use
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.
Posted by Krista Wright, Executive Director of Polar Bears International
Thank you, and welcome to the new Google Maps
February 19, 2014
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
’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.
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.
See the world from every angle.
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.
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.
Here’s to many more years of mapping together!
Posted by Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps
maps and earth
Exploring new cities for Google Fiber
February 19, 2014
Over the last few years, gigabit Internet has moved from idea to reality, with
dozens of communities
(PDF) working hard to build networks with speeds 100 times faster than what most of us live with today. People are hungrier than ever for faster Internet, and as a result, cities across America are making speed a priority. Hundreds of mayors from across the U.S.
(PDF) that abundant high-speed Internet access is essential for sparking innovation, driving economic growth and improving education.
(PDF) and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a pillar of their economic development plans. And Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio,
in June that every school should have access to gigabit speeds by 2020.
We've long believed that the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, so it’s fantastic to see this momentum. And now that we’ve learned a lot from our Google Fiber projects in
, we want to help build more ultra-fast networks. So we’ve invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S.—
34 cities altogether
—to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.
We aim to provide updates by the end of the year about which cities will be getting Google Fiber. Between now and then, we’ll work closely with each city’s leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face. These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.
We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.
While we do want to bring Fiber to every one of these cities, it might not work out for everyone. But cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network. In fact, we want to give everyone a boost in their thinking about how to bring fiber to their communities; we plan to share what we learn in these 34 cities, and in the meantime you can check out some tips in
a recent guest post on the Google Fiber blog
by industry expert
. Stay tuned for updates, and we hope this news inspires more communities across America to take steps to get to a gig.
Posted by Milo Medin, VP, Google Access Services
Google Capital: investing in growth-stage companies
February 19, 2014
Ever since our founders began working out of a garage in Menlo Park, we’ve thought about what it takes for entrepreneurs to build the companies they dream of. Sometimes this means bringing
to Google—but other times, it means we go to them. Today, we’re launching
, a new growth equity fund backed by Google and led by partners David Lawee, Scott Tierney and Gene Frantz.
Like our colleagues at
, our goal is to invest in the most promising companies of tomorrow, with one important difference. While Google Ventures focuses mainly on early-stage investments, we’ll be looking to invest in companies solely as they hit their growth phase. That means finding companies that have already built a solid foundation and are really ready to expand their business in big ways. We’ll look across a range of industries for companies with new technologies and proven track records in their fields. Our investments to date include
—with many more to come.
But it’s not just a monetary investment for us. The most important—and distinctive—feature of Google Capital is how we work with our portfolio companies. Over the past 15 years, Google has built a strong business, and that’s mostly thanks to the great people who work here. Our portfolio companies have abundant access to the talent, passion and strategic expertise of some of Google’s technology and product leaders. While many investors may contribute money and advice to the companies they support, Google Capital is going beyond that and tapping into our greatest assets: our people. They help
succeed, and we believe they can help our portfolio companies do the same.
It’s still very early, and investing is a long road. We’re excited about what we’re doing today—but even more excited to see what happens in the years to come.
Posted by David Lawee, Partner, Google Capital
Kicking off the 2014 Google Science Fair: It’s your turn to change the world
February 12, 2014
What if you could turn one of your passions into something that could change the world? That's just what thousands of teens have done since the first Google Science Fair in 2011. These students have tackled some of today’s greatest challenges, like an
, more effective
ways to beat cancer
more efficient ways of farming
Now it’s time to do it again: we're calling for students ages 13-18 to
their brilliant ideas for the fourth annual Google Science Fair, in partnership with
. All you need to participate is curiosity and an Internet connection. Project submissions are due May 12, and the winners will be announced at the finalist event at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., on September 22.
In addition to satisfying your curious mind, your project can also win you some pretty cool prizes. This year’s
grand prize winner
will have the chance to join the Virgin Galactic team at Spaceport America in New Mexico as they prepare for space flight and will be among the first to welcome the astronauts back to Earth, a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands aboard the National Geographic
and a full year’s digital access to
magazine for their school. Age category winners will have a choice between going behind the scenes at the LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark or an amazing experience at either a Google office or National Geographic.
For the 2014 competition, we’ll also give two new awards to celebrate even more talented young scientists:
The Computer Science Award
will be given to a project that champions innovation and excellence in the field of computer science.
Local Award Winners
—students whose projects have attempted to address an issue relevant to their community—will be honored in select locations globally.
Science In Action award
will once again honor a project that addresses a health, resource or environmental challenge. The winner will receive a year’s mentoring from
and a $50,000 grant toward their project.
Stay updated throughout the competition on
our Google+ page
, get inspired by participating in virtual field trips and ask esteemed scientists questions in our Hangout on Air series. If you need help jump-starting your project, try out the
What do you love? What are you good at? What problem have you always dreamed of solving? Get started with your project today—it’s your turn to change the world.
Posted by Clare Conway, Google Science Fair team
Solve for X 2014: Celebrating and accelerating moonshot pioneers
February 10, 2014
Solve for X
gathered 60 entrepreneurs and scientists from around the world to discuss 18
proposals—world-changing projects that work to address a huge problem, suggest a radical solution and use some form of breakthrough technology to make it work.
Solve for X attendee Sara Menker shares ideas and critique from her group’s
opened the summit with a talk on climate change entitled “Ira Glass
tries to boss you into a moonshot
.” Ira mixed data, devastating personal experiences, potential technical solutions and insightful ways to think about the issue and made an excellent case that generalists should consider shifting focus to climate change.
Following Ira’s talk, we heard proposals on a wide variety of topics, including: Leslie Dewan’s proposal for
generating power from nuclear waste
building on technology ideas abandoned in the 1950s; Lonnie Johnson’s JTEC invention, which would allow us to
convert heat directly into electricity
; Howard Shapiro’s global collaboration that uses some of the newest and oldest technologies in agriculture to
end stunting for rural poor
; Julia Greer’s exploration of the relationship between a material's strength and its weight through
3D architected nanomaterials
; Yael Hanein’s
artificial solar retina
, which has the potential to cure blindness; Erez Livneh’s
, which could slow and eliminate disease; and Asel Sartbeava’s proposal for
thermally stable vaccines
that remove the need for refrigeration cold chain during transport.
Ido Bachelet explains how certain surgical interventions could be accomplished through
During a “show and tell” session, participants from previous Solve for X events shared updates on their moonshots.
showed us plants that glow when activated; Dr. Keith Black brought delicious
Dr. Black’s Brain Bars
; Karen Gleason brought
solar cells printed on paper
brought the first “steak chips” that
Suchitra Sebastian’s demonstration during her proposal on a
new generation of superconductors
In an effort to include more people in the Solve for X experience, this year we ran 10 experiments to bring our
exploration session format
into other organizations’ events, including
TEDx Beacon Street
, SXSW and Tribeca Film Festival; we even held an event on
. FabLab, ReWork and AAAS recently became
, joining Singularity University, XPrize, TED and others. We hope we’ll run into you at an event in your area.
To learn more,
watch our video “On Taking Moonshots”
in which several moonshot pioneers talk about the mindset needed to do this kind of breakthrough work. You can find
all 18 of the proposals from the 2014 Summit
, as well as 200+ moonshots posted by other pioneers, at
. You can also
moonshots—your own or others that fit the tech moonshot proposal format. Join our #TechMoonshots conversations on
, co-hosts/creators of
Solve for X
Chromebox, now for simpler and better meetings
February 6, 2014
The best meetings are face-to-face—we can brainstorm openly, collaborate closely and make faster decisions. But these days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones. Meetings need to catch up with the way we work—they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device. Starting today, they can be: Any company can upgrade their meeting rooms with a new Chromebox, built on the Chrome principles of speed, simplicity and security.
Chromebox for meetings
brings together Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps in an easy-to-manage Chromebox, making it simpler for any company to have high-definition video meetings. Here are a few highlights:
Instant meeting room
. Chromebox for meetings comes with a blazing-fast Intel Core i7-based Chromebox, a high-definition camera, a combined microphone and speaker unit and a remote control. Set up your entire room in minutes and easily manage all meeting rooms from a web-based management console. All you need is the display in your room, and you’re good to go.
Simpler and faster meetings
. Walk into the room, click the remote once and you’re instantly in the meeting. No more complex dial-in codes, passcodes or leader PINs. Share your laptop screen wirelessly, no need for any cords and adaptors. Integration with Google Apps makes it easy to invite others and add rooms to video meetings, directly from Google Calendar.
Meetings with anyone, anywhere
. Up to 15 participants can join the video meeting from other conference rooms, their laptops, tablets or smartphones. Need to meet with a customer who doesn’t use Chromebox for meetings? That’s easy too—all they need is a Gmail account. You can also connect to rooms that have traditional video conferencing systems using a new tool from
, and participants who prefer phones can join your meeting with a conference call number from
Chromebox for meetings is available in the U.S. today starting at $999, which includes the ASUS Chromebox and everything you need to get going. That means for the same price that companies have typically paid for one meeting room, they'll be able to outfit 10 rooms—or more. CDW and SYNNEX will help bring Chromebox for meetings to customers and resellers, and Chromeboxes from HP and Dell will be available for meetings in the coming months. Later this year, we plan to launch in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K.
Companies like Eventbrite, Gilt, oDesk and Woolworths have been testing Chromebox for meetings, and have
that they love the simple setup, the ease of use, and being able to see their colleagues in other offices. More importantly, the low price will enable them to extend these benefits to even more employees, rooms and offices. Find out how
Chromebox for meetings
can help you and your coworkers see eye-to-eye. Happy meetings, everyone!
Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP, Product Management
google for work
Art, made with code: calling all future interactive artists
February 5, 2014
In between creating masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel and “Madonna and Child,” Michelangelo dissected cadavers in the hopes of understanding how the human body worked so he could paint it accurately. He’s not the only one: there has long been a connection between science and art. And it’s true today more than ever, as modern artists use technology for inspiration, inventing ways to give life to code, letting it spill from the screen and onto the canvas. We call this “DevArt,” and this summer, we’re teaming up with the
in London and their
Digital Revolution exhibition
to celebrate DevArt in an interactive gallery. And we want you to be a part of it.
As part of this exhibition, we’re looking for the next up-and-coming developer artist. This is your opportunity to express your creativity, and to have your work featured in the Barbican and seen by millions of people around the world. To throw your hat in the ring, build a project on the DevArt site and show us what you would create. From there, we’ll pick one creator whose work will sit alongside
three of the world’s finest interactive artists
who are also creating installations for DevArt: Karsten Schmidt, Zach Lieberman, and the duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet.
The exhibition will open at the Barbican this summer. Until then, visit
, where you can submit your own project. If you’re not the creative coding type, visit the site to see some incredible art and follow the artists’ creative process—from concept and early sketches to the finished piece—on their respective Project Pages. You'll get a rare look into artists’ ways of working with modern technologies (including some Google products), and maybe even get inspired to create something yourself.
If you had the chance to make your mark in today’s art world with technology as your canvas, what would you create?
We’d like you to show us
Posted by Steve Vranakis, Executive Creative Director, Google Creative Lab
It’s time to Doodle 4 Google! How would you make the world a better place?
February 4, 2014
Before there was an airplane, there were
doodles of flying machines
, and before there was a submarine, there were
doodles of underwater sea explorers
. Ideas big and small, practical and playful, thought-provoking and smile-inducing, have started out as doodles. And we’re ready for more!
Doodle 4 Google is the chance for young artists to think and dream big. Our theme this year, "If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…” is all about curiosity, possibility and imagination.
Creating the best doodle comes with major perks: this year—for the first time ever—the winner of the competition will become an honorary Google Doodler for a day and animate his or her Doodle for the homepage with the Doodle team. The winning Doodle will then be featured on the Google homepage for a day for millions to see. If that’s not cool enough, the winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school.
If you feel like your young artist may need a little nudge to get their creative juices flowing, we’re partnering with
videos and activities
for teachers and parents as well as a virtual field trip to Google’s headquarters. We’re also offering interactive “Meet the Doodler”
sessions where kids can meet Google Doodlers, learn about their process from idea to a Doodle, and ask questions along the way.
Mark your calendar to
send in your kids’ submissions by March 20
. Judging starts with Googlers and a panel of guest judges, including astronaut Ron Garan, author of the Percy Jackson Series Rick Riordan, Google[x] Captain of Moonshoot Astro Teller, directors of The LEGO Movie Chris and Phil, President of RISD school Rosanne Somerson, robotics designer Lee Magpili, and authors Lemony Snicket and Mary Pope Osborne.
On April 29, we’ll announce the 50 state finalists and open up a public vote to select the national winner. These 50 kids will all get to visit Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on May 21 for a day full of creative workshops and other fun activities—and the winning (animated!) doodle will be revealed on google.com in June.
Participating is easier than ever. Teachers and parents can download entry forms on our
Doodle 4 Google site
. Doodles can be uploaded digitally to our site or mailed in. We encourage full classrooms to participate too! There’s no limit to the number of doodles from any one school or family... Just remember, only one doodle per student.
That’s all I’ve got. Now get to doodling!
Posted by Ryan Germick, Doodle Team Lead
Supporting computer science education with the 2014 RISE Awards
February 3, 2014
"We need more kids falling in love with science and math.” That's what Larry Page said at last year's I/O, and it's a feeling shared by all of us. We want to inspire young people around the world not just to use technology, but to create it. Unfortunately, many kids don’t have access to either the education or encouragement they need to pursue computer science. So five years ago we created the
Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards
, which provide funding to organizations around the world that engage girls and underrepresented students in extracurricular computer science programs.
This year, the RISE Awards are providing $1.5 million to 42 organizations in 19 countries that provide students with the resources they need to succeed in the field. For example,
in the U.K. provides after-school computer science programs and mentoring to prepare high-achieving students from disadvantaged communities for admission into top universities. Another awardee, North Carolina-based
STARS Computer Corps
, helps schools in low-income communities gain access to computing resources for their students to use. Visit
for a full list of our RISE Award recipients.
Created in 2007, the Children’s University Foundation has been carrying out educational programs for more than 20,000 children aged 6-13. Click on the photo to learn more about this and other RISE Awardees.
This year we’re also expanding the program with the RISE Partnership Awards. These awards aim to encourage collaboration across organizations in pursuit of a shared goal of increasing global participation in computer science. For example, more than 5,000 girls in sub-Saharan Africa will learn computer science as a result of a partnership between the Harlem based program
We’re proud to help these organizations inspire the next generation of computer scientists.
Posted by Hai Hong, RISE Program Manager
Shedding some light on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests
February 3, 2014
We believe the public deserves to know the full extent to which governments request user information from Google. That’s why for the past four years we’ve shared and continuously expanded and updated information about government requests for user information in our
Until now, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) opposed our efforts to publish statistics specifically about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests. Under FISA, the government may apply for orders from a special FISA Court to require U.S. companies to hand over users’ personal information and the content of their communications. Although FISA was passed by elected representatives and is available for anyone to read, the way the law is used is typically kept secret. Last summer’s revelations about government surveillance remind us of the challenges that secrecy can present to a democracy that relies on public debate.
Last year we
filed a lawsuit
asking the FISA Court to let us disclose the number of FISA requests we may receive and how many users/accounts they include. We’d previously secured permission to publish information about
National Security Letters
, and FISA requests were the only remaining type of demands excluded from our report.
Today, for the first time, our report on government requests for user information encompasses all of the requests we receive, subject only to
delays imposed by the DoJ
regarding how quickly we can include certain requests in our statistics.
is a step in the right direction, and speaks to the
principles for reform
that we announced with other companies last December. But we still believe more transparency is needed so everyone can better understand how surveillance laws work and decide whether or not they serve the public interest. Specifically, we want to disclose the precise numbers and types of requests we receive, as well as the number of users they affect in a timely way. That’s why we need Congress to go another step further and pass
(PDF) that will enable us to say more.
You have the right to know how laws affect the security of your information online. We’ll keep fighting for your ability to exercise that right by pushing for greater transparency around the world.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
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