Archive for January, 2013

Exploring the Grand Canyon on Google Maps

Whether you’re planning an upcoming hike, or want to learn more about the Earth’s geological history, Google Maps can help. Today, we’re releasing panoramic imagery of one of the world’s most spectacular national monuments: the Grand Canyon. These beautiful, interactive images cover more than 75 miles of trails and surrounding roads, making our map of this area even more comprehensive, accurate and easy to use than ever before.

Take a walk down the narrow trails and exposed paths of the Grand Canyon: hike down the famous Bright Angel Trail, gaze out at the mighty Colorado River, and explore scenic overlooks in full 360-degrees. You’ll be happy you’re virtually hiking once you get to the steep inclines of the South Kaibab Trail. And rather than drive a couple hours to see the nearby Meteor Crater, a click of your mouse or tap of your finger will transport you to the rim of this otherworldly site.

View Larger Map

The Colorado River, one of the many impressive scenes in the Grand Canyon

This breathtaking imagery collection was made possible with the Trekker. Our team strapped on the Android-operated 40-pound backpacks carrying the 15-lens camera system and wound along the rocky terrain on foot, enduring temperature swings and a few muscle cramps along the way. Together, more than 9,500 panoramas of this masterpiece of nature are now available on Google Maps.

View Larger Map

A breathtaking 360-degree view from the famous Bright Angel Trail

So no matter where you are, you don’t have to travel far or wait for warmer weather to explore Grand Canyon National Park. Check out some of our favorite views on our World Wonders site where you can find more information, facts and figures about the Grand Canyon, or in the updated Street View gallery, and happy (virtual) hiking!

Posted by Ryan Falor, Product Manager, Google Maps

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At age 16, Louis Braille invented an alphabet for the blind. When she was 13, Ada Lovelace became fascinated with math and went on to write the first computer program. And at 18, Alexander Graham Bell started experimenting with sound and went on to invent the telephone. Throughout history many great scientists developed their curiosity for science at an early age and went on to make groundbreaking discoveries that changed the way we live.

Today, we’re launching the third annual Google Science Fair in partnership with CERN, the LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American to find the next generation of scientists and engineers. We’re inviting students ages 13-18 to participate in the largest online science competition and submit their ideas to change the world.

For the past two years, thousands of students from more than 90 countries have submitted research projects that address some of the most challenging problems we face today. Previous winners tackled issues such as the early diagnosis of breast cancer, improving the experience of listening to music for people with hearing loss and cataloguing the ecosystem found in water. This year we hope to once again inspire scientific exploration among young people and receive even more entries for our third competition.

Here’s some key information for this year’s Science Fair:
Students can enter the Science Fair in 13 languages.
The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm PDT.
In June, we’ll recognize 90 regional finalists (30 from the Americas, 30 from Asia Pacific and 30 from Europe/Middle East/Africa).
Judges will then select the top 15 finalists, who will be flown to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. for our live, final event on September 23, 2013.
At the finals, a panel of distinguished international judges consisting of renowned scientists and tech innovators will select top winners in each age category (13-14, 15-16, 17-18). One will be selected as the Grand Prize winner.
Prizes for the 2013 Science Fair include a $50,000 scholarship from Google, a trip to the Galapagos with National Geographic Expeditions, experiences at CERN, Google or the LEGO Group and digital access to the Scientific American archives for the winner’s school for a year. Scientific American will also award a $50,000 Science in Action prize to one project that makes a practical difference by addressing a social, environmental or health issue. We’re also introducing two new prizes for 2013:
In August, the public will have the opportunity to get to know our 15 finalists through a series of Google+ Hangouts on Air and will then vote for the Inspired Idea Award—an award selected by the public for the project with the greatest potential to change the world.
We also recognize that behind every great student there’s often a great teacher and a supportive school, so this year we’ll award a $10,000 cash grant from Google and an exclusive Google+ Hangout with CERN to the Grand Prize winner’s school.
Lastly, we’ll also be hosting a series of Google+ Hangouts on Air. Taking place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, these Hangouts will feature renowned scientists including inventor Dean Kamen and oceanographic explorer Fabien Cousteau, showcase exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of cutting-edge labs and science facilities, and provide access to judges and the Google Science Fair team. We hope these Google+ Hangouts will help inspire, mentor and support students throughout the competition and beyond.

Visit www.googlesciencefair.com to get started now—your idea might just change the world.

Posted by Sam Peter, Google Science Fair Team

Twenty years ago, we used paper maps and printed guides to help us navigate the world. Today, the most advanced digital mapping technologies—satellite imagery, GPS devices, location data and of course Google Maps—are much more accessible. This sea change in mapping technology is improving our lives and helping businesses realize untold efficiencies.

The transformation of the maps we use everyday is driven by a growing industry that creates jobs and economic growth globally. To present a clearer picture of the importance of the geo services industry, we commissioned studies from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Oxera. What we found is that maps make a big economic splash around the world.

In summary, the global geo services industry is valued at up to $270 billion per year and pays out $90 billion in wages. In the U.S., it employs more than 500,000 people and is worth $73 billion. The infographic below illustrates some examples of the many benefits of maps, whether it’s improving agriculture irrigation systems or helping emergency response teams save lives.

Click the image for a larger version
1.1 billion hours of travel time saved each year? That’s a lot of time. Also, consider UPS, which uses map technology to optimize delivery routes—saving 5.3 million miles and more than 650,000 gallons of fuel in 2011. And every eight seconds, a user hails a taxi with Hailo, which used maps and GPS to deliver more than 1 million journeys in London alone last year. Finally, Zipcar uses maps to connect more than 760,000 customers to a growing fleet of cars in locations around the world.

Because maps are such an integral part of how we live and do business, the list of examples goes on and on. That’s why it’s important we all understand the need to invest in the geo services industry so it continues to grow and drive the global economy. Investments can come from the public and private sectors in many forms—product innovation, support of open data policies, more geography education programs in schools and more.

We’re proud of the contributions that Google Maps and Earth, the Google Maps APIs and our Enterprise solutions have made to the geo services industry and to making maps more widely available, but there’s a long way to go. To learn more about the impact of the maps industry, see the full reports.

Posted by Brian McClendon, VP Google Geo

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Today, January 28, is Data Privacy Day, when the world recognizes the importance of preserving your online privacy and security.

If it’s like most other days, Google—like many companies that provide online services to users—will receive dozens of letters, faxes and emails from government agencies and courts around the world requesting access to our users’ private account information. Typically this happens in connection with government investigations.

It’s important for law enforcement agencies to pursue illegal activity and keep the public safe. We’re a law-abiding company, and we don’t want our services to be used in harmful ways. But it’s just as important that laws protect you against overly broad requests for your personal information.

To strike this balance, we’re focused on three initiatives that I’d like to share, so you know what Google is doing to protect your privacy and security.

First, for several years we have advocated for updating laws like the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act, so the same protections that apply to your personal documents that you keep in your home also apply to your email and online documents. We’ll continue this effort strongly in 2013 through our membership in the Digital Due Process coalition and other initiatives.

Second, we’ll continue our long-standing strict process for handling these kinds of requests. When government agencies ask for our users’ personal information—like what you provide when you sign up for a Google Account, or the contents of an email—our team does several things:

  • We scrutinize the request carefully to make sure it satisfies the law and our policies. For us to consider complying, it generally must be made in writing, signed by an authorized official of the requesting agency and issued under an appropriate law.
  • We evaluate the scope of the request. If it’s overly broad, we may refuse to provide the information or seek to narrow the request. We do this frequently.
  • We notify users about legal demands when appropriate so that they can contact the entity requesting it or consult a lawyer. Sometimes we can’t, either because we’re legally prohibited (in which case we sometimes seek to lift gag orders or unseal search warrants) or we don’t have their verified contact information.
  • We require that government agencies conducting criminal investigations use a search warrant to compel us to provide a user’s search query information and private content stored in a Google Account—such as Gmail messages, documents, photos and YouTube videos. We believe a warrant is required by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure and overrides conflicting provisions in ECPA.

And third, we work hard to provide you with information about government requests. Today, for example, we’ve added a new section to our Transparency Report that answers many questions you might have. And last week we released data showing that government requests continue to rise, along with additional details on the U.S. legal processes—such as subpoenas, court orders and warrants—that government use to compel us to provide this information.

We’re proud of our approach, and we believe it’s the right way to make sure governments can pursue legitimate investigations while we do our best to protect your privacy and security.


The Official Google Blog

Today, January 28, is Data Privacy Day, when the world recognizes the importance of preserving your online privacy and security.

If it’s like most other days, Google—like many companies that provide online services to users—will receive dozens of letters, faxes and emails from government agencies and courts around the world requesting access to our users’ private account information. Typically this happens in connection with government investigations.

It’s important for law enforcement agencies to pursue illegal activity and keep the public safe. We’re a law-abiding company, and we don’t want our services to be used in harmful ways. But it’s just as important that laws protect you against overly broad requests for your personal information.

To strike this balance, we’re focused on three initiatives that I’d like to share, so you know what Google is doing to protect your privacy and security.

First, for several years we have advocated for updating laws like the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act, so the same protections that apply to your personal documents that you keep in your home also apply to your email and online documents. We’ll continue this effort strongly in 2013 through our membership in the Digital Due Process coalition and other initiatives.

Second, we’ll continue our long-standing strict process for handling these kinds of requests. When government agencies ask for our users’ personal information—like what you provide when you sign up for a Google Account, or the contents of an email—our team does several things:

We scrutinize the request carefully to make sure it satisfies the law and our policies. For us to consider complying, it generally must be made in writing, signed by an authorized official of the requesting agency and issued under an appropriate law.
We evaluate the scope of the request. If it’s overly broad, we may refuse to provide the information or seek to narrow the request. We do this frequently.
We notify users about legal demands when appropriate so that they can contact the entity requesting it or consult a lawyer. Sometimes we can’t, either because we’re legally prohibited (in which case we sometimes seek to lift gag orders or unseal search warrants) or we don’t have their verified contact information.
We require that government agencies conducting criminal investigations use a search warrant to compel us to provide a user’s search query information and private content stored in a Google Account—such as Gmail messages, documents, photos and YouTube videos. We believe a warrant is required by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure and overrides conflicting provisions in ECPA.

And third, we work hard to provide you with information about government requests. Today, for example, we’ve added a new section to our Transparency Report that answers many questions you might have. And last week we released data showing that government requests continue to rise, along with additional details on the U.S. legal processes—such as subpoenas, court orders and warrants—that governments use to compel us to provide this information.

We’re proud of our approach, and we believe it’s the right way to make sure governments can pursue legitimate investigations while we do our best to protect your privacy and security.

Posted by David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer

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