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Go back in time with Street View

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.
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.
Construction of the Freedom Tower, New York CityDestruction 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!

Posted by Vinay Shet, Google Street View Product Manager

Going solar with SunPower

Just because Earth Day is over doesn’t mean we’re done doing good things for the planet. Yesterday we announced our biggest renewable energy purchase yet: an agreement with our Iowa utility partners to supply our data center facilities there with up to 407 megawatts of wind energy.

Today, we’re taking another step towards a clean energy future with a major new investment. Together with SunPower Corporation we’re creating a new $250 million fund to help finance the purchase of residential rooftop solar systems—making it easier for thousands of households across the U.S. to go solar. Essentially, this is how it works: Using the fund ($100 million from Google and $150 million from SunPower), we buy the solar panel systems. Then we lease them to homeowners at a cost that’s typically lower than their normal electricity bill. So by participating in this program, you don’t just help the environment—you can also save money.
A home sporting SunPower solar panels
SunPower delivers solar to residential, utility and commercial customers and also manufacturers its own solar cells and panels.They’re known for having high-quality, high reliability panels which can generate up to 50 percent more power per unit area, with guaranteed performance and lower degradation over time. That means that you can install fewer solar panels to get the same amount of energy. And SunPower both makes the panels and manages the installation, so the process is seamless.

This is our 16th renewable energy investment and our third residential rooftop solar investment (the others being with Solar City and Clean Power Finance). Overall we’ve invested more than $1 billion in 16 renewable energy projects around the world, and we’re always on the hunt for new opportunities to make more renewable energy available to more people—Earth Day and every day.

Posted by Rob Parker, Renewable energy team

Ok Glass… Let’s celebrate Earth Day

Part of honoring Earth Day is celebrating the people who dedicate their lives to protecting our planet’s most vulnerable species. You’ll find one of those people in the tall grasslands of Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, where Sabita Malla, a senior research officer at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is hard at work protecting rhinos and Bengal tigers from poaching. She spends her days collecting data about wildlife in order to track the animals, assess threats, and provide support where needed. Now, she’s getting help from something a bit unexpected: Google Glass.

Last year, WWF started exploring how smart eyewear could help further its conservation mission in the Arctic and the Amazon as part of the Giving through Glass Explorer program. Now they’ve brought it to Nepal to see how it could help monitor wild rhinos. Take a peek:

Rhino monitoring can be a slow process, especially in habitats with tricky terrain, but data collection is crucial for making the right conservation decisions. Most parts of Chitwan National Park are inaccessible to vehicles, so Sabita and her team ride in on elephants, and have been collecting health and habitat data using pencil and paper.

Now custom-built Glassware (the Glass version of apps) called Field Notes can help Sabita do her work hands-free instead of gathering data in a notebook. That’s helpful for both accuracy and safety when you’re on an elephant. Using voice commands, Sabita and other researchers can take photos and videos, and map a rhino’s location, size, weight, and other notable characteristics. The notes collected can also be automatically uploaded to a shared doc back at the office, making it easier to collaborate with other researchers, and potentially a lot faster than typing up handwritten notes.

This is just one example of a nonprofit exploring how Glass can make their critical work easier. Today, we’re looking for more ideas from you.

If you work at a nonprofit and have an idea for how to make more of a difference with Glass, share your ideas at g.co/givingthroughglass by 11:59 PDT on May 20, 2014. Five U.S.-based nonprofits will get a Glass device, a trip to a Google office for training, a $25,000 grant, and help from Google developers to make your Glass project a reality.

To learn more about Google.org’s ongoing collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, visit this site.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org

What did you search for this week? What about everyone else? Starting today, we’ll be sharing a regular look back at some of the top trending items on Google Search. Let’s dive in.

From afikomen to 1040EZ
People were looking for information on Palm Sunday and Good Friday ahead of Easter; searches for both days were even higher than searches for the Pope himself. Turning to another religious tradition, with Passover beginning on Monday we saw searches rise over 100 percent for Seder staples like [charoset recipe], [brisket passover] and of course [matzo balls]. Alongside these celebrations, U.S. citizens observed another annual rite of spring: taxes were due on April 15, leading to a rise in searches for [turbotax free], [irs] and (whoops) [turbotax extension].
But what made this year different from all other years? A rare lunar eclipse known as the “blood moon,” when the Earth’s shadow covers the moon, making it look red, and which occurred on Tuesday. There were more than 5 million searches on the topic, as people were eager to learn more. (Hint: if you missed seeing the blood moon this time around, keep your eyes on the sky in October. This is the first lunar eclipse in a “lunar tetrad,” a series of four total lunar eclipses each taking place six lunar months apart.)
Say goodbye and say hello
This week marked the first anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, and commemorations led searches for the term [boston strong] to rise once again. And just yesterday, we were saddened by the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian writer best known for his masterpiece “100 Years of Solitude”—not to mention responsible for high schoolers across the U.S. knowing the term “magical realism.” On a happier note, former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton announced she’s expecting.

Entertainment that makes you go ZOMG
“Game of Thrones” fans—at least those who hadn’t read the books—were treated to a bombshell in this past Sunday’s episode when (spoiler alert) yet another wedding turned murderous. Searches for [who killed joffrey] skyrocketed as people struggled to process the loss of the boy king we love to hate. On the more sedate end of the Sunday TV spectrum, we welcomed back AMC’s “Mad Men,” which continues to provide viewers with plenty of innuendo, allusion and fashion to chew on—and search for—in between episodes.

The trailer for the highly anticipated film version of “Gone Girl” dropped this week—vaulting searches for [gone girl trailer] nearly 1,000 percent—as did a clip from another book-to-movie remake, “The Fault in Our Stars.” Between these two films we expect no dry eyes in June and no intact fingernails come October. At least we’ve got something funny to look forward to: as news broke this week that Fox 2000 is developing a sequel to the 1993 comedy classic “Mrs. Doubtfire,” searches on the subject have since spiked.
And that’s it for this week in search. If you’re interested in exploring trending topics on your own, check out Google Trends. And starting today, you can also sign up to receive emails on your favorite terms, topics, or Top Charts for any of 47 countries.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [gossip girl vulture recaps] and [tron bike lights]

For more than five years, we’ve provided free and inexpensive teacher professional development trainings in computer science education through Computer Science for High School (CS4HS). In this program, Google provides funding and support for experts to create hands-on professional development training in CS education for K-12 educators. The goal is to arm teachers with the knowledge they need to help their students succeed in the field. The program has already trained more than 12,000 teachers, and reached more than 600,000 students—and we’ve gotten great feedback over the years (a 95% satisfaction rate!).

It’s been a great success, but there is still much more to do. So this year, we’re taking the first steps toward extending CS4HS across the globe. We’re piloting CS4HS projects in Latin America for the first time—an area where computer science education is often mistaken for computer literacy (think word processing, typing, or changing settings on your operating system rather than robotics or coding a game). We’re also introducing eight new online workshops, so teachers no longer need to be located near a CS4HS event to get quality training.

It’s not just the “where” we’re expanding, but the “when,” as well. We’re now providing new resources for teachers to get ongoing, year-round help. Our Google+ Community page hosts Hangouts on Air with CS industry leaders, Googlers, and top educators on a regular basis. And we’ve added a new Resources page with online workshops, tutorials and information on computational thinking, robotics and more. Finally, if you happen to be in the neighborhood at the right time, sign up for one of our in-person workshops available around the world in these locations:

Posted by Erin Mindell Cannon, Google Education Program Manager

Today we’re joined by Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots program. In this post, Dr. Goodall shares her thoughts on how today’s technology can enable more people around the world to make a difference in their communities. Join Dr. Goodall for a celebratory Birthday Hangout on Air today at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT. -Ed.

When I first set foot on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in 1960 to study chimpanzee behavior, I carried with me notebooks, pencils and a pair of second-hand binoculars. I was, at the time, a young woman with no scientific training, but had a strong passion for learning about animals in Africa. In later years I founded the Jane Goodall Institute, dedicated to preserving the habitat of chimpanzees and other animals worldwide.
The author connects with a member of the Kasakela chimpanzee community in Gombe.

Google+ Auto Awesome is all about fun surprises that bring your photos to life. And whether it’s Benedict Cumberbatch at the Oscars or Michelle Obama at the White House, a celebrity photobomb is the ultimate surprise, turning an ordinary photo into something extraordinary.

Now with Auto Awesome Photobombs, you too can get a celebrity photobomb—no red carpet required. We’re starting with surprise appearances by +David Hasselhoff, everyone’s favorite crime-fighting rockstar lifeguard.

Watch your step! The Hoff joins these adventurous hikers at Machu PicchuThe Hoff rides the waves in Big Sur
The Hoff enjoys a breezy afternoon by the San Francisco Bay

While we’ve always known how important transparency is when it comes to government requests, the events of the past year have underscored just how urgent the issue is. From being the first company to disclose information about National Security Letters to fighting for the ability to publish more about FISA requests, we’ve continually advocated for your right to know.

Today, we’re updating our Transparency Report for the ninth time. This updated Report details the number of government requests we received for user information in criminal investigations during the second half of 2013. Government requests for user information in criminal cases have increased by about 120 percent since we first began publishing these numbers in 2009. Though our number of users has grown throughout the time period, we’re also seeing more and more governments start to exercise their authority to make requests.

We consistently push back against overly broad requests for your personal information, but it’s also important for laws to explicitly protect you from government overreach. That’s why we’re working alongside eight other companies to push for surveillance reform, including more transparency. We’ve all been sharing best practices about how to report the requests we receive, and as a result our Transparency Report now includes governments that made less than 30 requests during a six-month reporting period, in addition to those that made 30+ requests.

Also, people have been asking about how we respond to search warrants in the U.S., so we’ve created an entertaining video to explain in plain language how this process works. We apply the same rigorous standards presented in this video to every request we receive, regardless of type.

You deserve to know when and how governments request user information online, and we’ll keep fighting to make sure that’s the case.

Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security

Since getting online, Green Mountain Bee Farm in Fairfax, Vt. experienced a 5x increase in sales, and Christine Fitzpatrick Hair and Makeup in Birmingham, Mich. attracted 50 percent more clients. Getting online can make a big difference for small businesses—and stronger businesses makes for stronger communities. Online businesses are expected to grow 40 percent faster and create twice as many jobs as those that aren’t online,* but more than half of America’s small businesses currently don’t have a website.

That’s the inspiration behind Get Your Business Online Week, when we come together with local partners to get businesses in our communities online and growing. Starting today, we’ll broadcast free virtual workshops for business owners, available to anyone with an Internet connection. Here’s a glimpse of what you can look forward to:

Conversations with businesses that have prospered online, like Barkbox, GoldieBlox and Dollar Shave ClubStep-by-step demos on building a website and getting found on Search and MapsInterviews with small business experts like SmallBizLady Melinda EmersonWorkshops on Google tools for businesses (Google Apps, Google Trends, Google Alerts), online advertising (AdWords), and measuring your success online (Analytics)Free help and advice from experts over Helpouts by Google
We’re also teaming up with small business organizations across the country including local chambers of commerce, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE chapters to host live broadcasts of our trainings. You can find a screening closest to you on our website.

We’re excited to welcome small business everywhere to join us for this special week. Even if you don’t own a business, we encourage you to take part by spreading the word and inviting your favorite businesses to sign up.
See you on the web!

Posted by Amber Shapiro, on behalf of the Get Your Business Online team

*Source: BCG Report, “The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity,” March 2012

The Google Journalism Fellowship connects students interested in using technology to tell stories in new ways to the organizations that are pushing the boundaries of newsgathering and reporting. Over 10 weeks, Fellows work on projects ranging from building interactive news apps to researching stories, finding data and writing code. In this post, one of last year’s Fellows, Jan Lauren Boyles, shares her perspective on the benefits of the program and what this year’s Fellows stand to get out of it. -Ed.

At first, I thought it was just my imagination.

In the middle of my exams for my doctorate at American University last year, I got a call from the Pew Research Center offering me a Google Journalism Fellowship. Low on sleep, my first thought: “Was this offer all just a reverie, rendered by my foggy mind?”

In some ways, it turned out that that call really was the beginning of a dream.

I had applied for the Fellowship because I wanted to work with the brightest minds in media research and broaden my understanding of the intersections between journalism and technology. I was thrilled to work with leading experts at Pew Research to collect and analyze data that examined how social media is transforming the way Americans consume and share news. I also had a chance to learn from Google’s own mapping and data visualization specialists. But I never imagined we’d also shadow an editorial meeting at The Miami Herald, discuss the future of news with Knight Foundation staff, talk directly with news startup leaders and take part in a design sprint at a CIR/Google conference around data and the news.
The 2013 Google Journalism Fellows. The author is third from the right.
Many of the inaugural class of Google Fellows has gone on to carve out careers in the newsrooms of the 21st century. The Fellowship helped me land a full-time position at the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project as a research associate—a dream job, where I’ll use various research methods—from surveys to content analysis to good ol’ reporting—to help examine how news and information functions today. One key project that I’ll work on this year will be a deep examination of the flow of local news in society today.

Now a new class of Google Fellows gets a chance to fulfill their own dreams. These 11 students are people to watch—young scholars, computer scientists and practitioners who will likely create new journalism products and platforms that will change our engagement with news in the digital age.

This year’s organizations and Fellows are:

Center for Investigative Reporting – Emmanuel Martinez, University of Southern California and Suyeon Son, Northwestern UniversityCommittee to Protect Journalists – Rachael Levy, CUNY Graduate School of JournalismInvestigative Reporters & Editors – Aram Chung, Columbia University Graduate School of JournalismNieman Journalism Lab – Liam Andrew, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyPew Research Journalism Project – Alex T. Williams, University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for CommunicationPoynter – Benjamin Mullin, California State University, ChicoPRI.org – David Conrad, University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for CommunicationProPublica – Yue Qiu, Columbia Graduate School of JournalismSunlight Foundation – Stan Oklobdzija, UC San DiegoTexas Tribune – Jessica Hamel, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Congratulations to this year’s Fellows! We look forward to the energy you’ll bring to the host organizations this summer—and to watching your dreams become a reality.

Posted by Jan Lauren Boyles, Research Associate at Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project

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