Our ongoing effort to build great maps—ones that are accurate, easy to navigate and cover every corner of the world—continues to progress. Over the last few months, Google Maps has taken people everywhere from the Amazon to Antarctica, and we’re continuing to add imagery of even more places around globe. Beginning this week, you can dive even deeper into Latin America with new Street View imagery of Brazil and Mexico.

Street View first became available for Brazil in 2010, and as of this week, we’ve grown our collection of panoramic imagery to more than 70 cities throughout the country. You’ll now find colonial cities like Fortaleza, architecturally compelling cities like Brasilia and coastal landmarks like Recife, Natal and Salvador. You can even virtually travel to the west side of Brazil and visit Foz de Iguaçu, or if you’re planning an upcoming trip, preview the the area around your hotel as well as nearby shopping malls, historic monuments, restaurants and more. With so many upcoming events, like the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, we’re excited to share the riches of Brazil’s cities not only with tourists from around the world, but also with locals who might want to visit a city, neighborhood or landmark they’ve not yet experienced.


Street View imagery of Brazil available before mid-August 2012

Street View imagery of Brazil available beginning mid-August 2012



We’ve also introduced Street View imagery of 30 Mesoamerican archaeological sites in Mexico. Start your adventure by exploring Kukulkan’s Temple, a 1,100-year-old pyramid whose peak is reached by climbing 365 steps, one for each day of the year. When visitors clap their hands, the architectural acoustics at the base of the pyramid’s steps are designed to mimic the sound of the Quetzal, a bird that the Mayans regard as representative of their gods.



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Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Find hundreds of magical stories like this one by visiting the colossal pyramids of Teotihuacan, emblematic sites for the Mayans such as Chichen Itza or seaside archaeological jewels like Tulum. These and other famous sites from around the world can be seen in our Street View Gallery.



We’re always improving the comprehensiveness of our maps so you can experience more imagery from around the world. Whether you’re planning a visit to one of these areas or touring these locations from the comfort of your armchair, we hope you enjoy these captivating new images of Latin America.


The Official Google Blog

For fifty years, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has been the launch point for a generation of space technology and exploration. Countless enthusiasts (including this one) grew up longing to see a space shuttle up close and walk in the paths of astronauts. Today, a collaboration between NASA and Street View is enabling people around the world to take a trip to the doorway to outer space, and see Kennedy as it transitions into a multipurpose launch complex for the next 50 years of space innovation. This location is our largest special collection of Street View imagery to date, totaling 6,000 panoramic views of the facilities, and expanding our mission to document the world’s most amazing places.


Street View fleet at Kennedy Space Center

Among the images you can now explore online with the click of your mouse are the space shuttle launch pad, Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Firing Room #4. Gaze down from the top of the enormous launch pad, peer up at the towering ceiling of the Vehicle Assembly Building (taller than the Statue of Liberty) and get up close to one of the space shuttle’s main engines, which is powerful enough to generate 400,000 lbs of thrust. From these vantage points, anyone can live out his or her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.


Atlantis Orbiter in the Vehicle Assembly Building - View Larger Map


Saturn V rocket on display in the Apollo/Saturn V center - View Larger Map

Even though they recently entered retirement, you can still get an up-close, immersive experience with two of the Space Shuttle Orbiters—the Atlantis and Endeavour —with Street View.

We’d like to thank NASA for making this project possible and giving all of us the chance to digitally walk in the shoes of all of the pioneering astronauts, scientists, engineers and technicians that made our space dreams possible. To explore more of our largest special collection yet, visit our Street View gallery at maps.google.com/nasa.


The Official Google Blog

One hot summer day in Yosemite National Park in Northern California, I sat under a tree along a lazy river in awe of the natural beauty around me. I looked out at the majestic granite mountains, the chirping birds and the rustling leaves, and thought about how they were the same that day as they had been thousands of years ago.


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People around the world can now appreciate the beauty and timelessness of the wilderness through Street View. We’ve recently added 360-degree panoramic imagery for five of California’s national parks—including Yosemite—to Google Maps. In addition, we’ve refreshed Street View imagery across most of the state. You can now take a virtual road trip practically the entire stretch of California from north to south.

Redwood National Park sits near the California-Oregon border and hugs the Pacific Ocean. It’s most famous for its giant redwood trees—the tallest trees on Earth. With Street View, you can now stare up at them without straining your neck:


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Inland, at Yosemite National Park, you can visit historic Inspiration Point, the site famously photographed by Ansel Adams in “Clearing Winter Storm”. Panning right from the same vantage point, you can see the cliffs of El Capitan and the picturesque Bridalveil Fall waterfall flanking iconic Half Dome, a granite rock formation almost 5,000 feet tall. You can also use Street View to venture into the valley, overlook Glacier Point (visited by John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903), explore the more remote upcountry along Tioga Pass road and see the Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove.


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You’ve seen the redwoods, now see more enormous trees with a visit to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, whose namesake trees are the most massive in the world. It would take almost 30 adults linking their outstretched arms to wrap all the way around the largest sequoias. These parks also offer rich and varied landscapes featuring everything from mountains to canyons to caverns.


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The name may be foreboding, but Death Valley National Park, which lies along the California-Nevada border and has the lowest elevation of any spot in North America, is home to a variety of flora and fauna and well worth a visit. With average summer temperatures in this desert environment soaring above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, most people visit in the winter, but Street View lets you check it out any time of year—no sunblock required.


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Slightly north of the U.S.-Mexico border is the fifth and final national park recently added to Street View: Joshua Tree National Park. The gnarly, twisted trees here seem like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Plan your escapades ahead of time from your browser, then pack up your hiking shoes or your mountain bike and hit the trails in this one-of-a-kind desert landscape.


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This only scratches the surface of what California parks have to offer travelers looking to explore the great outdoors. We hope a virtual trip through Street View inspires you to visit these places in person as well. If you need some additional inspiration, I’ll leave you with a quote from naturalist and author John Muir:

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.


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Driving down Highway 1 through Big Sur is the ultimate road trip in California.

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)


The Official Google Blog

Street View says “aloha” from Hawaii

Before joining Google, I lived in Hawaii for several years. Now, one look at a photo of palm trees swaying in front of an impossibly blue-green ocean transports me back to the islands—relaxing on the beach and listening to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. If one photo can do that for you, how would you feel if you had access to millions of them?


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The Kohala coast on the Big Island of Hawaii

Our newly expanded Street View coverage of six of Hawaii’s islands enables you to take a virtual vacation to paradise. Explore panoramic imagery of local beach parks, tropical rainforests, volcanic lava fields, oceanfront resorts and more. Can you feel the ocean breeze yet? Now let’s do some digital island-hopping…

Oahu
We begin our island adventure on Oahu, home to the capital city of Honolulu and a number of popular destinations. This island has something for everyone, from the top surfing locations of Waikiki Beach and Waimea Bay, to the USS Arizona Memorial Museum and Iolani Palace for history buffs, to the home of the NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Fans of the TV shows “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0” or movies like “Jurassic Park” will love looking around for filming locations at Kualoa Ranch.


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Kualoa Ranch on the island of Oahu

Maui
Hopping over to Maui, we can sunbathe at oceanfront resorts in Ka’anapali, hit the links on challenging golf courses in Kapalua and learn the hula at the famous Old Lahaina Luau. One of my favorite memories of Maui is driving along the scenic “Road to Hana” with my friends, an experience I can now relive with Street View.


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The “Road to Hana” on the island of Maui

Big Island
We now fly over to the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, where we visit one of the most active volcanoes in the world at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We check out the scene in the funky seaside town of Kailua-Kona, explore tropical gardens in Hilo, and climb above the clouds on Mauna Kea. We end our Big Island sojourn with a little oceanside relaxation at the luxurious resorts in Waikaloa, Kamuela or Hualalai.


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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island

Molokai
Over on Molokai, people enjoy the quiet life. With no buildings taller than a coconut tree and not a traffic light to be seen, miles of untouched shorelines and excellent outdoor activities will help you leave the modern world behind.


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The untouched coastlines of Molokai

Kauai
Now let’s jump to the incomparable Kauai, with its jaw-dropping landscapes around every turn. Whether you’re staying in Poipu or Hanalei, be sure to visit Waimea Canyon, which Mark Twain called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. You might also enjoy a leisurely stroll along the coast at Lydgate State Park.


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Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai

Lanai
Our virtual tour of Hawaii comes to an end on the romantic, tiny island of Lanai, the “pineapple island.” This island has so many memories for me, from the day I proposed to my wife (a few hundred feet from here) to the morning we spent swimming with dolphins in Hulopoe Bay. I can’t wait to go back again!


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An upcountry retreat on the romantic island of Lanai.

We hope this little taste of Hawaii will inspire you to use Street View the next time you’re planning a vacation—whether you’re taking a trip around the block, across the world or just down memory lane. Check out a more complete list of Street View’s off-the-road locations in Hawaii here or visit our Scenic Hawaii collection in the Street View gallery.


Street View car at Kualoa Ranch on the windward coast of Oahu.

Aloha!

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)


The Official Google Blog

It’s been a fascinating two weeks for our Google Science Fair judges. They’ve been reviewing projects which try to solve myriad problems—from helping people with hearing loss enjoy music to saving water with vacuflush toilets—and they’ve been blown away by the inventiveness of the world’s young scientists. Today, they’ve selected 15 finalists from our top 90 regional finalists. All of these students asked interesting questions; many focused on real-world problems and some produced groundbreaking science that challenged current conventions.

In July, these finalists will be coming to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to present their projects to our international panel of finalist judges and compete for prizes that include $ 100,000 in scholarship funds, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and more. The winners will be announced at our celebration gala beginning at 7:00 p.m. PDT July 23 and the event will be streamed live on our YouTube channel, so make sure to tune in.

In addition, this year one of our partners, Scientific American, is awarding a special Science in Action prize to a project that addresses a social, environmental, ethical, health or welfare issue to make a practical difference to the lives of a group or community. After careful deliberation by Scientific American’s independent judging panel, we are thrilled to announce that Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Mahlalela from Swaziland are the winners of this award for their project, which explores an affordable way to provide hydroponics to poor subsistence farmers. In addition to the $ 50,000 in prize funds, Shongwe and Bonkhe will have access to a year’s mentorship to explore how their project can help the lives of subsistence farmers in Swaziland and around the world. They are also still in the running for their age category prize and the grand prize.

Congratulations to all the finalists and the Scientific American Science in Action winners. We look forward to meeting you all at Google in July.


The Official Google Blog

Every year, 3.5 million people come to Israel to visit ancient sites that are holy to billions of people, to walk among the unique stone of Jerusalem, or to relax on the beaches of the Mediterranean.

To help you explore Israel’s history and present, we’ve launched imagery of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Haifa on Street View. You can explore the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City and each of its four quarters, walk along the Via Dolorosa and see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, visit the Western Wall and the Mount of Olives. You can stop by the Biblical Zoo, then visit the Israel Museum and the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum—and explore more with the Art Project and the Yad Vashem photo archive. Or you can stroll through Tel Aviv’s bohemian Neve Tzedek neighborhood and the ancient port of Jaffa, and take a virtual trip to some of Tel Aviv’s scenic beaches or to Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens.

We hope you’ll use Street View to discover, explore and more. Some are already using the new imagery to help others—for example, Access Israel, an organization working to make Israel more accessible for people with disabilities, has embedded Street View in its accessibility mapping project of Israeli cities (note: in Hebrew).

We’ll be adding more Street View coverage of sites and streets in the coming months, and are hoping to bring Street View to more places around the region soon.


The Official Google Blog

Inside view on ads review

This is the first in a series of posts that will provide greater transparency about how we make our ads safer by detecting and removing scam ads. -Ed.

A few weeks ago, we posted here about our efforts in fighting bad ads, and we shared a video with the basics of how we do it. Today I wanted to delve a little deeper and give some insight into the systems we use to help prevent bad ads from showing. Our ads policies are designed with safety and trust in mind—we don’t allow ads for malicious downloads, counterfeit goods, or ads with unclear billing practices, to name a few examples. In order to help prevent these kinds of ads from showing, we use a combination of automated systems and human input to review the billions of ads submitted to Google each year. I’m one of many engineers whose job is to help make sure that Google doesn’t show bad ads to users.

We’ve designed our approach based on a three-pronged strategy, each focused on a different dimension of the problem: ads, sites, and advertiser accounts. These systems are complementary, sharing signals among each other so that we can comprehensively attack bad ads.

For example, in the case of a site that is selling counterfeit goods, this three-pronged approach aims to look for patterns that would flag such a site and help prevent ads from showing. Ad review notices patterns in the ads and keywords selected by the advertiser. Site review analyzes the entire site to determine if it is selling counterfeit goods. Account review aims to determine if a new advertiser is truly new, or is simply a repeat offender trying to abuse Google’s advertising system. Here’s more detail on how we review each of these three components.

Ad Review
An ad is the snippet of information presented to a user, along with a link to a specific webpage, or landing page. The ads review system inspects individual ads and landing pages, and is probably the system most familiar to advertisers. When an advertiser submits an ad, our system immediately performs a preliminary examination. If there’s nothing in the ad that flags a need for further review, we tell the advertiser the ad is “Eligible” and show the ad only on google.com to users who have SafeSearch turned off. If the ad is flagged for further review, in most cases we refer to the ad as “Under Review” and don’t show the ad at all. From there, the ad enters our automated pipeline, where we employ machine learning models, a rules engine and landing page analysis to perform a more extensive examination. If our automated system determines an outcome with a high degree of confidence, we will either approve the ad to run on Google and all of our partners (“Approved”), approve the ad to show for appropriate users in specific locations (“Approved – Limited”) or reject the ad (“Disapproved”). If our automated system isn’t able to determine the outcome, we send the ad to a real person to make a final decision.

Site Review
A site has many different pages, each of which could be pointed to by different ads, often known as a domain. Our site review system identifies policy issues which apply to the whole site. It aggregates sites across all ads from all advertisers and regularly crawls them, building a repository of information that’s constantly improving as new scams and new sites are examined. We store the content of advertised sites and use both machine learning models and a rules engine to analyze the sites. The magic of the site review system is it understands the structure of language on webpages in order to classify the content of sites. Site review will determine whether or not an entire site should be disabled, which would prevent any ads leading to that site showing from any account. When the automated system isn’t able to determine the outcome with a high degree of confidence, we send it to a real person to make a decision. When a site is disabled, we tell the advertiser that it’s in violation of “Site Policy.”

Account Review
An account is one particular advertiser’s collection of ads, plus the advertiser’s selections for targeting and bidding on those ads. An account may have many ads which may point to several different sites, for example. The account review system constantly evaluates individual advertiser accounts to determine if the whole account should be inspected and shut down for policy violations. This system “listens” to a variety of signals, such as ads and keywords submitted by the advertiser, budget changes, the advertiser’s address and phone number, the advertiser’s IP address, disabled sites connected to this account, and disapproved ads. The system constantly re-evaluates all accounts, incorporating new data. For example, if an advertiser logs in from a new IP address, the account is re-evaluated to determine if that new signal suggests we should take a closer look at the content of the advertiser’s account. If the account review system determines that there is something suspect about a particular account with a high degree of confidence, it automatically suspends the account. If the system isn’t sure, it stops the account from showing any ads at all and asks a real person to decide if the account should be suspended.

Even with all these systems and people working to stop bad ads, there still can be times when an ad slips through that we don’t want. There are many malicious players who are very persistent—they seek to abuse Google’s advertising system in order to take advantage of our users. When we shut down a thousand accounts, they create two thousand more using different patterns. It’s a never-ending game of cat and mouse.

We’ve put a great deal of effort and expense into building these systems because Google’s long-term success is based on the trust of people who use our products. I’ve focused my time and energy in this area for many years. I find it inspiring to fight the good fight, to focus on the user, and do everything we can to help prevent bad ads from running. I’ll continue to post here from time to time with additional thoughts and greater information about how we make ads safer by detecting and removing scam ads.


The Official Google Blog

For the first time, you can ride a train on Street View. Through a partnership with UNESCO and Rhaetian Railways, we captured 75.8 miles/122 km of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Albula/Bernina railway line with Street View cameras. Starting today, in addition to accessing the imagery from directly within Google Maps, you can also find the collection in our new gallery.

Like our trip to the Amazon, this Swiss mountain journey also began last year, when we attached the Street View trike to the wagon of a Rhaetian Railway train. From the very front of the train, the trike took 360-degree images along the expansive track.

You can watch the video of how we did it here, and for more Street View collections around the world, visit our updated Street View gallery.

Enjoy the ride!

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)


The Official Google Blog

Last August, a few members of our Brazil and U.S. Street View and Google Earth Outreach teams were invited to the Amazon Basin to collect ground-level images of the rivers, forest and communities in the Rio Negro Reserve. Today, on World Forest Day, we’re making those images available through the Street View feature on Google Maps. Now anyone can experience the beauty and diversity of the Amazon.

Tributary of the Rio Negro - View Larger Map

Take a virtual boat ride down the main section of the Rio Negro, and float up into the smaller tributaries where the forest is flooded. Stroll along the paths of Tumbira, the largest community in the Reserve, or visit some of the other communities who invited us to share their lives and cultures. Enjoy a hike along an Amazon forest trail and see where Brazil nuts are harvested. You can even see a forest critter if you look hard enough!

Amazon Rainforest - View Larger Map

This project was made possible in partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), the local nonprofit conservation organization that invited us to the area. We used the Street View trike and a tripod camera with a fisheye lens—typically used to capture imagery of business interiors—to capture both the natural landscape and the local communities. In all, more than 50,000 still photos were stitched together to create these immersive, 360-degree panoramic views:

Many areas of the Amazon, including Rio Negro Reserve, are under the protection of the Brazilian government with restricted access to the public, so we hope that this Street View collection provides access to this special corner of the planet that many of us otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to experience. Together with FAS, we’re thrilled to help everyone from researchers and scientists to armchair explorers around the world learn more about the Amazon, and better understand how local communities there are working to preserve this unique environment for future generations.

To do this directly from maps you can go to Brazil map and drag Pegman to the Rio Negro River

Start exploring this portion of the Amazon and other collections around the world on the updated Street View site and gallery.

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)


The Official Google Blog

Street View: your friendly campus tour guide

For many, the start of a new year is also the start of a new semester. Whether you’re a current student trying to familiarize yourself with campus, an applicant assessing your options or an alumnus feeling nostalgic, the Street View feature in Google Maps can be your tour guide without the backward walking. We recently added imagery of more university campuses to the existing special collections already available via Street View through our Partner Program. Let’s take a quick tour of some of the many beautiful campuses around the world.

In Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward, you can find Waseda University. Founded in 1882, it is known for producing some of the top Japanese politicians and business leaders in recent history. Check out the statue of Ōkuma Shigenobu, who founded the university.

Halfway around the world, we can visit the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Founded in 1451, this university is one of the oldest in the world, and the fourth oldest in the English speaking world. Take a tour of the magnificent campus starting at the West Quadrangle of the Main Building.

Hop the Atlantic and cross the U.S. to Stanford University, which was founded in 1891 in Palo Alto, Calif. Located near Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, both of our founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, attended Stanford for their graduate studies. Explore the campus starting at the palm-lined main quad with a view of Hoover Tower.

Students, take note: Even though your campus is now available in your browser, you still need to go to class! To view other imagery collections of popular universities around the world see a complete list of the campuses or visit a few more highlights in the Street View gallery.

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)


The Official Google Blog

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