A long way home with help from Google Earth

In 1986, a five-year-old boy named Saroo Munshi Khan accidentally fell asleep on a stationary train in India. He woke up hours later, alone and in an unfamiliar place. This fateful train ride ripped Saroo away from his home and family. For more than a quarter century, he searched for them before finding his way back home with the help of Google Earth.

This incredible true story spans decades, miles and continents. If it weren’t for hope, determination and technology, Saroo would have remained forever lost.

On that day 27 years ago, Saroo and his 14-year-old brother, Guddu, were searching a train station for change to help support their family. Guddu wandered beyond the station and Saroo fell asleep on a stationary train waiting for his brother’s return. When he woke up, the train had left the station, separating Saroo from his home and family.

The train Saroo boarded was in Berhanpur, India, and he ended up 1,500 kilometers away, in Calcutta. For weeks, he survived on the streets. Eventually, he was taken into an orphanage, where he was adopted by the Brierleys, an Australian family. He moved across an ocean to the town of Hobart in Tasmania. At six years old, Saroo had a new family, home, country and name. Though Saroo Munshi Khan couldn’t find his home, Saroo Brierley never gave up the search.

In 2011, using vague memories and Google Earth imagery, Saroo identified his home town. Using the ruler feature in Google Earth, he mapped out a search radius by making an educated guess about how far he traveled by train. After countless hours of scouring this area of Google Earth imagery, he came upon a proverbial needle in a haystack. Saroo spotted one vague landmark that led him to the next, helping him unlock a five-year-old child’s memories. He eventually spotted a neighborhood, street and tin roof that looked familiar.

In Saroo's words, "It was just like being Superman. You are able to go over and take a photo mentally and ask, 'Does this match?' And when you say, 'No,' you keep on going and going and going."

In 2012, Saroo embarked on a trip from Australia back to Khandwa, India. Once he arrived, he shared his story with locals, who helped him find his way back home to his mother and surviving brother and sister. Twenty-six years after accidentally leaving home, he finally found his way back.
The Google Earth imagery that brought Saroo home.

Maps can affect our lives in many ways, big and small—but hopefully they always help us find our way. You can now read Saroo’s book, “A Long Way Home,” for a detailed account of his journey of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit—hope.

The HALO Trust: Helping communities reclaim the land with Google Maps for Business

From time to time we invite guests to post about subjects of interest and today we’re pleased to share a post from Guy Willoughby, Executive Director of the HALO Trust, a U.K.-based nonprofit dedicated to landmine clearance in post-conflict areas. Hear how HALO is using Google Maps for Business to fight the war against mines, clearing more than 1.4 million landmines worldwide. -Ed.

When conflicts end, making communities safe and livable often means removing dangerous remnants of war. “Getting mines out of the ground, for good,” as we say at the HALO Trust, has been our mission over the last 25 years. We work in more than a dozen countries and regions across the globe, clearing landmines and other explosives, many of which have been buried underground. While we’ve been in operation for almost three decades, there is still more to be done.

In Kosovo, where people are reclaiming their homeland after the conflict in 1999, we’re working in close cooperation with the government and local population to collect and share information about where mines are located. It’s a true community effort—farmers tell us where they’ve seen signs of mines and where accidents have occurred. It’s our job at the HALO Trust to take this data and make it usable, accessible, and visually compelling, so clearance becomes more efficient and happens faster.

One of our biggest challenges is keeping our field teams safe. We need easy-to-use tools that can help us find, map and clear hazardous areas without putting our operations at risk. Over the years, we’ve continuously improved our mine clearance techniques, including the deployment of Google Earth Pro.


Google Earth Pro makes it easier for the HALO team to do the dangerous and detailed work of finding and mapping at-risk areas. Because it’s based on the same technology as Google Maps and Earth, it’s easy for our teams to use and create maps without IT or GIS expertise. It’s a tool that is familiar to our employees and something they use in their daily lives, so we can start mapping right away.

The information we gather, including GPS references to landmines in the field, is imported into Earth Pro so that we can plot mine locations. We also use the incredibly detailed satellite imagery in Google Earth to identify and map hazardous areas. These high-resolution maps serve many people: from families who live near mines, to crews who clear them, and donors and other organizations that support us. When donors view the vivid interactive maps of our project areas—with mines so close to schools, farms and houses—they understand why the HALO Trust’s work is so critical.

Accurate maps from Google Earth Pro mean safer working conditions for our local teams, and faster progress toward our goals. In Kosovo alone, we’ve removed thousands of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosives. And with the help of Google’s mapping tools and our donors, we’ll be able to declare the country mine-free.

Explore the Galapagos’ biodiversity with Street View

This week marks the 178th anniversary of Darwin’s first exploration of the Galapagos Islands. This volcanic archipelago is one of the most biodiverse and unique places on the planet, with species that have remarkably adapted to their environment. Through observing the animals, Darwin made key insights that informed his theory of evolution. Here’s a short documentary that captures the 10-day expedition:

Today, in partnership with the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and Charles Darwin Foundation, we’re launching the 360-degree images from the Galapagos Islands that we collected in May with the Street View Trekker. Now, you can visit the islands from anywhere you may be, and see many of the animals that Darwin experienced on his historic and groundbreaking journey in 1835.

Darwin may have first sighted San Cristobal Island from the water, perhaps near where we sailed with the Trekker strapped to a boat in order to observe the craggy shoreline and the Magnificent Frigatebirds that the rocky landscape shelters. After landing on San Cristobal, we made our way to Galapaguera Cerro Colorado, a breeding center that helps to restore the population of the island tortoises, seriously threatened by invasive species. Wearing the Trekker, we walked by giant tortoises munching on leafy stalks and recently hatched baby tortoises.

The Galapaguera plays a critical role in conservation of the giant tortoises

Darwin visited Floreana Island, but he didn’t have the scuba gear needed to properly explore the marine life just off the island’s coast. Thanks to our partner, Catlin Seaview Survey and their SVII underwater camera, we were able to collect underwater imagery of some especially energetic and inquisitive sea lions that came out to see whether the divers wanted to play!


View Larger Map
The playful Galapagos Sea Lion is one of the endemic species of the islands

On our hike through the wetlands of Isabela Island, we spotted some marine iguanas, including this one sunning itself after a morning swim. On North Seymour Island, we got up close and personal to blue-footed boobies performing their mating dance and the Magnificent Frigatebirds with their red throat sacs.


The blue-footed boobies on North Seymour island

The extensive Street View imagery of the Galapagos Islands won’t just enable armchair travelers to experience the islands from anywhere in the world—it will also play an instrumental role in the ongoing research of the environment, conservation, animal migration patterns and the impact of tourism on the islands. See our Lat Long blog post for an example of how the imagery will be used for scientific research.

Visit our behind-the-scenes experience and tune in to an exclusive Google+ Hangout with the Google Maps team and our partners at 9:00 a.m. PT today to learn more about this special collection of imagery.

Scaling the heights of the Eiffel Tower

Since its construction in 1889, more than 250 million people have visited Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower. The highest monument in the world for more than 40 years (today that title is held by Burj Khalifa in Dubai), the Eiffel Tower remains the most visited monument globally. But not everyone has been or can hope to go—until now. If you’ve ever wondered what the view is like from above the City of Light or wanted to learn more about the Tower’s history, now’s your chance to find out.

The Google Cultural Institute and the Eiffel Tower Operating Company have teamed up to create three immersive online exhibitions which blend fascinating historical material with a sprinkling of technological magic. In order to capture the imagery, the Street View team followed in the footsteps of 7 million annual visitors and ascended multiple floors of the Tower. Using the Street View Trolley (designed especially for monuments and museums) they filmed 360-degree views of the monument’s architecture and its views over Paris.

These modern-day Street View panoramas sit alongside nearly 50 archival images, plans, engravings and photos telling the story of the Eiffel Tower’s development and social impact in the 19th century. Some of the archive material is quite rare and precious such as a recording of Gustave Eiffel’s voice by Thomas Edison.

The first exhibition presents the birth of the Eiffel Tower from the initial idea until its realization. You can then follow the construction of the monument step-by-step through photos and sketches. Details on the inauguration and the first visitors lie in the third exhibition, with photos of people admiring the Paris vista on the opening day leading into today’s Street View imagery from the top floor. Did you know that during the Tower’s inauguration for the Universal Exhibition of 1889, the elevators were not yet in service but 12,000 people per day rushed to climb the 1710 steps leading to the top?


As a product manager and designer, it’s been awe-inspiring to get to see the spectacular vision and the detailed architectural capabilities exemplified by the plans more than 100 years ago. It required tremendous knowledge of special planning and physics to ensure that 18,000 separately made pieces would come together as one. So if you’ve never visited the Eiffel Tower before, want to get insider knowledge or simply want to re-discover it in a new way, visit our site and immerse yourself in one of the most well-known attractions on the planet.

A new Google Maps app for smartphones and tablets

Today we’re introducing a new Google Maps app for Android smartphones and tablets, also coming soon to iPhone and iPad. It’s a new mapping experience that makes exploring the world and getting to the places that matter to you a lot faster and easier. The app is gradually rolling out globally in Google Play and will be available soon in the App Store.

The new Google Maps for mobile builds on the design we released for iPhone last December and improves on it with a few useful search and navigation features. And it's the first dedicated app for Android tablets and iPads. We’re also retiring Latitude and are making some changes to offline and My Maps which we’ll explain in more detail below.

First, here are a few highlights that make this release stand out:

Explore: Explore is a fast and easy way to visually browse and discover new places without even typing. Simply tap the search box and you’ll see cards showing great places to eat, drink, sleep and shop.
Enhanced navigation: In addition to current traffic conditions, we’ve added two new features to help you navigate around traffic. You can now see reports of problems on the road that you can tap to see incident details. While on the road, Google Maps will also alert you if a better route becomes available and reroute you to your destination faster. This feature is available only on Android and is coming soon to iOS.
Designed for tablets: A dedicated tablet design brings all the features of this new app to Android tablets and iPads, which makes exploring the world from the comfort of your living room much more fluid, smooth and fun.
Reviews, Zagat and Offers: There’s a new 5.0 star rating system that gives you a quick read on how your friends and others rate places like restaurants, bars and cafes. For an expert’s opinion, the Zagat badge of excellence and curated lists are integrated into search results so you can quickly spot the very best places. From “Best Restaurants to meet for a drink in NYC” to “Best Restaurants in the Mission” in San Francisco, Zagat’s there to help you uncover the local gems.
And finally, Google Maps for mobile is a great way to discover valuable Offers from national brands like Macy's, Michael's and Toys "R" Us, labeled right on the map. All these features can make it a lot easier to navigate the world, no matter what adventure comes your way.

One important change you should know about is that Latitude and check-ins will be retired. These features will no longer be a part of the new Google Maps app, and will stop functioning in older versions by August 9. We understand some of you still want to see your friends and family on a map, which is why we've added location sharing and check-ins to Google+ for Android (coming soon to iOS). More details about Latitude and check-in changes can be found in our help center.

The offline maps feature for Android is also no longer available. Instead we’ve created a new way for you to access maps offline by simply entering “OK Maps” into the search box when viewing the area you want for later. Finally, My Maps functionality is not supported in this release but will return to future versions of the app. People who want to create powerful custom maps can still do so with Maps Engine Lite on desktop.

Helping you find great places is what we love to do. And as more of us use mobile phones and tablets in our daily lives, information that’s useful to you isn't just about what you need, but also where you might find it. Today’s update is an exciting step forward for Google’s maps—one that we hope will make it faster and easier for you to explore and discover places you want to go.

Update July 16: The new Google Maps app for iPhone and iPad is now live. Visit the App Store today to download it.



*The new Google Maps for mobile is compatible with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean Android devices and iOS 6+ when available. Please note some of the features mentioned in this post aren’t available in all countries.

A new way to experience the 100th Tour de France

This year, the Tour de France is celebrating its 100th edition with a special route, from Corsica to Les Champs-Elysées, giving people around the world the chance to admire beautiful sights as well as amazing athletic feats.

Our recent Doodle celebrating the 100th edition of the Tour de France

The Tour de France is using a variety of Google products to help you experience the race like never before, including a YouTube channel, a Google+ page and an Android app where you can keep up with this 100th edition. We’ve also used Google Maps and Street View to create a new interactive experience that lets you feel what it’s like to pedal alongside the greats. Put on your helmet and cycle along at g.co/yourtour.


So what are you waiting for? Line up and get started!

Only clear skies on Google Maps and Earth

To celebrate the sunny days of summer (in the northern hemisphere at least), today we're launching new satellite imagery for Google’s mapping products. This stunning global view is virtually cloud-free and includes refreshed imagery in more locations—giving you an even more accurate and comprehensive view of our planet's landscape.

The new, even more beautiful global view in Maps and Earth.

Our satellite imagery is usually created like a quilt: we stitch together imagery of different parts of the world. Using a process similar to how we produced the global time-lapse imagery of the Earth, we took hundreds of terabytes of data from the USGS's and NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite—sometimes dozens of photos of a single spot in the world—and analyzed the photos to compute a clear view of every place, even in tropical regions that are always at least partly cloudy.

The result is a single, beautiful 800,000 megapixel image of the world, which can be viewed in Earth and Maps when you're zoomed out to a global view. This global image is so big, if you wanted to print it at a standard resolution of 300 dots per inch you’d need a piece of paper the size of a city block! This image is then blended into our highest resolution imagery, giving a beautiful cloud-free global view and detailed images in the same seamless map.

Central Papua, Indonesia: before and after.

This update also includes refreshed imagery in many regions of the world, especially in areas where high-resolution imagery is not available, including parts of Russia, Indonesia and central Africa.

Saudi Arabia: before and after, showing increased agricultural expansion

You can see the new satellite imagery by going to Google Maps and turning on satellite view, or by opening Google Earth, and zooming out. And to read more about what went into creating this imagery, check out our detailed post on the Lat Long blog. Have fun exploring!

Experience stunning new heights with Street View in Dubai

What does it feel like to stand on top of the tallest building in the world? To give you a better sense of how that may feel, we took Street View to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, our first-ever collection in the Arab World. Described as a “vertical city,” the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest manmade structure, towering over the Dubai skyline at 828 meters (2,717 ft).


This is the first time we’ve captured a skyscraper on Street View—making Google Maps even more comprehensive and useful for you. The imagery was collected over three days using the Street View Trekker and Trolley, capturing high-resolution 360-degree panoramic imagery of several indoor and outdoor locations of the building.

In addition to the breathtaking views from the world’s tallest observation deck on the 124th floor, you can also see what it feels like to hang off one of the building’s maintenance units on the 80th floor, normally used for cleaning windows!



Visit the highest occupied floor in the world on the 163rd floor, experience being in the fastest-moving elevators in the world (at 22 mph) and check out the highest swimming pool in the world on the 76th floor.

Even if you’re afraid of heights, we hope you enjoy the view from the top! To see highlights from the Burj Khalifa Street View collection, visit www.google.ae/streetview.

Google Maps and Waze, outsmarting traffic together

We’ve all been there: stuck in traffic, frustrated that you chose the wrong route on the drive to work. But imagine if you could see real-time traffic updates from friends and fellow travelers ahead of you, calling out “fender bender...totally stuck in left lane!” and showing faster routes that others are taking.

To help you outsmart traffic, today we’re excited to announce we’ve closed the acquisition of Waze. This fast-growing community of traffic-obsessed drivers is working together to find the best routes from home to work, every day.

The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now. We’re excited about the prospect of enhancing Google Maps with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze and enhancing Waze with Google’s search capabilities.

We’ll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this app, to ensure they have what’s needed to grow and prosper.

The Waze community and its dedicated team have created a great source of timely road corrections and updates. We welcome them to Google and look forward to working with them in our ongoing effort to make a comprehensive, accurate and useful map of the world.

Capturing the beauty and wonder of the Galapagos on Google Maps

The Galapagos Islands are some of the most biologically unique ecosystems in the world. Explorers and scientists alike have long studied and marveled at these islands—made famous by Charles Darwin. The Ecuadorean Government, local conservation groups and scientists are working to protect the Galapagos from threats posed by invasive species, climate change and other human impacts.

It’s critical that we share images with the world of this place in order to continue to study and preserve the islands’ unique biodiversity. Today we’re honored to announce, in partnership with Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Parks Directorate (GNPD), that we’ve collected panoramic imagery of the islands with the Street View Trekker. These stunning images will be available on Google Maps later this year so people around the world can experience this remote archipelago.

Daniel Orellana of Charles Darwin Foundation crossing a field of ferns to reach Minas de Azufre (naturally-occurring sulfur mines) on the top of Sierra Negra, an active volcano on Isabela Island. The Google Maps team traveled for more than three hours, hiking and on horseback, to reach this remote location.

Images, like the one you see above, are also an important visual record that the CDF and GNPD will use to study and protect the islands by showing the world how these delicate environments have changed over time.

Daniel Orellana of the Charles Darwin Foundation climbs out of a lava tunnel where he was collecting imagery. The dramatic lava landscapes found on Isabela island tell the story of the formation of the Galapagos Islands.

Our 10-day adventure in the Galapagos was full of hiking, boating and diving around the islands (in hot and humid conditions) to capture 360-degree images of the unique wildlife and geological features of the islands with the Trekker. We captured imagery from 10 locations that were hand-selected by CDF and GNPD. We walked past giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, navigated through steep trails and lava fields, and picked our way down the crater of an active volcano called Sierra Negra.


A Galapagos giant tortoise crawls along the path near Googler Karin Tuxen-Bettman while she collects imagery with the Street View Trekker in Galapaguera, a tortoise breeding center, which is managed by the Galapagos National Park Service.

Life underwater in the Galapagos is just as diverse as life on land. We knew our map of the islands wouldn’t be comprehensive without exploring the ocean that surrounds them. So for the second time we teamed up with the folks at the Catlin Seaview Survey to collect underwater panoramic imagery of areas being studied by CDF and GNPD. This imagery will be used by Catlin Seaview Survey to create a visual and scientific baseline record of the marine environment surrounding the islands, allowing for any future changes to be measured and evaluated by scientists around the world.

Christophe Bailhache navigates the SVII camera through a large group of Sea Lions at Champion Island in Galapagos. Image courtesy of the Catlin Seaview Survey.

We truly believe that in order to protect these Galapagos Islands, we must understand them. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” We hope this Street View imagery not only advances the important scientific research, but also inspires you to learn more about this special place. Stay tuned for updates on this collection—the first time we’ve captured imagery from both land and sea! We can’t wait to share this amazing imagery with you later this year.

Live from Google I/O: Mo’ screens, mo’ goodness

This morning, we kicked off the 6th annual Google I/O developer conference with over 6,000 developers at Moscone Center in San Francisco, 460 I/O Extended sites in 90 countries, and millions of you around the world who tuned in via our livestream. Over the next three days, we’ll be hosting technical sessions, hands-on code labs, and demonstrations of Google's products and partners' technology.

We believe computing is going through one of the most exciting moments in its history: people are increasingly adopting phones, tablets and newer type of devices. And this spread of technology has the potential to make a positive impact in the lives of people around the world—whether it's simply helping you in your daily commute, or connecting you to information that was previously inaccessible.

This is why we focus so much on our two open platforms: Android and Chrome. They enable developers to innovate and reach as many people as possible with their apps and services across multiple devices. Android started as a simple idea to advance open standards on mobile; today it is the world’s leading mobile platform and growing rapidly. Similarly, Chrome launched less than five years ago from an open source project; today it’s the world’s most popular browser.

In line with that vision, we made several announcements today designed to give developers even more tools to build great apps on Android and Chrome. We also shared new innovations from across Google meant to help make life just a little easier for you, including improvements in search, communications, photos, and maps.

Here’s a quick look at some of the announcements we made at I/O:

  • Android & Google Play: In addition to new developer tools, we unveiled Google Play Music All Access, a monthly music subscription service with access to millions of songs that joins our music store and locker; and the Google Play game services with real-time multiplayer and leaderboards. Also, coming next month to Google Play is a special Samsung Galaxy S4, which brings together cutting edge hardware from Samsung with Google’s latest software and services—including the user experience that ships with our popular Nexus devices.
  • Chrome: With over 750 million active users on Chrome, we’re now focused on bringing to mobile the speed, simplicity and security improvements that we’ve seen on the desktop. To that end, today we previewed next-generation video codec VP9 for faster video-streaming performance; the requestAutocomplete API for faster payments; and Chrome Experiments such as "A Journey Through Middle Earth" and Racer to demonstrate the ability to create immersive mobile experiences not possible in years past.
  • Google+: We unveiled the newly designed Google+, which helps you easily explore content as well dramatically improve your online photo experience to give you crisp, beautiful photos—without the work! We also upgraded Google+ Hangouts—our popular group video application—to help bring all of your real-life conversations online, across any device or platform, and with groups of up to 10 friends.
  • Search: Search has evolved considerably in recent years: it can now have a real conversation with you, and even make your day a bit smoother by predicting information you might need. Today we added the ability to set reminders by voice and we previewed “spoken answers” on laptops and desktops in Chrome—meaning you can ask Google a question and it will speak the answer back to you.
  • Maps: Today we previewed the next generation of Google Maps, which gets rid of any clutter in order to put your individual experience and exploration front and center. Each time you click or search, our technology draws you a tailored map that highlights the information you need. From design to directions, the new Google Maps is smarter and more useful.

Technology can have a profound, positive impact on the daily lives of billions of people. But we can’t do this alone—developers play a crucial role. I/O is our chance to come together and thank you for everything you do.

A picture of Earth through time

Today, we're making it possible for you to go back in time and get a stunning historical perspective on the changes to the Earth’s surface over time. Working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and TIME, we're releasing more than a quarter-century of images of Earth taken from space, compiled for the first time into an interactive time-lapse experience. We believe this is the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public.

Built from millions of satellite images and trillions of pixels, you can explore this global, zoomable time-lapse map as part of TIME's new Timelapse project. View stunning phenomena such as the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon and urban growth in Las Vegas from 1984 to 2012:



Feel free to share these GIFs! More examples can be found on Google+.

The images were collected as part of an ongoing joint mission between the USGS and NASA called Landsat. Their satellites have been observing earth from space since the 1970s—with all of the images sent back to Earth and archived on USGS tape drives that look something like this example (courtesy of the USGS).

We started working with the USGS in 2009 to make this historic archive of earth imagery available online. Using Google Earth Engine technology, we sifted through 2,068,467 images—a total of 909 terabytes of data—to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g., those without clouds), for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth. We then compiled these into enormous planetary images, 1.78 terapixels each, one for each year.

As the final step, we worked with the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, recipients of a Google Focused Research Award, to convert these annual Earth images into a seamless, browsable HTML5 animation. Check it out on Google’s Timelapse website.

Much like the iconic image of Earth from the Apollo 17 mission—which had a profound effect on many of us—this time-lapse map is not only fascinating to explore, but we also hope it can inform the global community’s thinking about how we live on our planet and the policies that will guide us in the future. A special thanks to all our partners who helped us to make this happen.

Bridging the gaps with Street View

Recently we sent our Street View cars driving through the historic seaport town of Kaliningrad (the modern name for Koenigsberg) in Russia as part of our quest to keep Google Maps comprehensive, accurate and useful. While there, we were reminded of a classic mathematical problem: the Seven Bridges of Koenigsberg.

The mathematical problem posed an interesting challenge: find a route through Kaliningrad—which was once separated by the Pregel River—by crossing each of the seven bridges in town. The catch? One could only cross each bridge exactly once.

This sketch shows the town’s original seven bridges in green (Source: Wikipedia)

In 1735, Leonhard Euler, one of the most prolific mathematicians of all time and our recent Doodle subject, concluded that there was no solution to the problem because it was impossible to find a route that would cross each bridge only once. This famous problem and Leonhard Euler’s non-resolution paved the way for important discoveries in the field of mathematics including graph theory and topology.

Fast forward 278 years to today where we still rely on Euler’s findings to calculate optimal driving routes for our Street View cars. We use sophisticated algorithms, based on graph theory, to determine the best route through a city or town—helping us capture all the images we need in the shortest amount of time. Though these algorithms are complex, in simple terms, it's equivalent to solving the problem of drawing a house without lifting your pen and never going over the same segment twice. Like this:

(Source: Vincent Furnon, Google Operations Research Team)

While the bridges of Koeningsberg may be one of Kaliningrad’s most famous landmarks, you can also explore other parts of this historic town with Street View—including the oldest building in the city, the Juditten Church, which was built before 1288, and King’s Gate, one of the city’s original six gates built during the 19th century.


Today, it’s traditional for newly married couples to hang engraved padlocks on one of the original seven bridges of Koenigsberg

In other words, leave the mathematics to the mathematicians and just enjoy the scenery with Street View!

Matt Harding: Around the world, one dance at a time with Google Maps

Today is International Dance Day, a celebration of a universal art form that spans cultures and countries. But dancing isn’t just limited to holidays. Since 2003, Matt Harding has famously been dancing his way across the globe with people from all walks of life and sharing to millions on his YouTube channel. His mission is simple: Dance. Dance with everyone. Dance everywhere. Dance to spread joy.

Matt’s journey began with a serendipitous, single dance step in Hanoi. While traveling through Southeast Asia, his friend encouraged him to dance for the camera—and he just kept dancing. At first, he was amused by the idea of capturing himself dancing in front of famous landmarks and in famous cities around the world. Since then, Matt’s videos have evolved beyond a single man dancing; his videos now focus on individuals that gather together to share in the fun of dance, as you can see in his 2012 YouTube film.

The joy that goes into Matt’s work is apparent—and well documented. However, there’s also a fair amount of planning involved to choreograph his efforts. Matt relies on Google Maps for comprehensive, accurate and useful tools to execute and track his steps.



Before he sets off on each adventure, Matt uses Google Maps to scout various locations. Using Street View and photos in Google Maps, he finds landmarks and points of interest around the globe that are prefect dance spots. For instance, he came across Piazza del Popolo while exploring Rome with Street View. These tools come in handy to help Matt choose a backdrop to highlight his assembly of exuberant, local dancers.


Piazza del Popolo in Rome - View Larger Map

Scouting is only part of the process. Once Matt has coordinated a group in a city, he helps everyone get to the designated destination by creating a customized My Map and sharing it with the participants so they can easily navigate to the planned meetup location. The end result is something everyone around the world can relate to.



Follow Matt as he continues to travel the world on his site www.wherethehellismatt.com.

Keep dancing!

Celebrating the 50th country on Street View

Whether you're planning a summer vacation to visit the Colosseum or exploring potential neighborhoods for your next move, Street View gives you instant access to the places you want to see—even before you leave the house. We launched Street View in 2007 in five U.S. cities to give you what we called a “feet on the ground” experience and have since been growing the program to make it more comprehensive, accurate and useful for everyone.

Today, we’ve reached 50 countries with the launch of Street View in Hungary and Lesotho and are significantly expanding our coverage in Poland and Romania, among other locations around the world. This is also the largest single update of Street View imagery we’ve ever pushed, including new and updated imagery for nearly 350,000 miles of roads across 14 countries.

Now you can take a virtual stroll through the historic center of Budapest, right along the Danube (the river that carves the city in two). See the Hungarian Parliament building or the famous Chain bridge.


Budapest, Lánchíd (Chain bridge)

Other Hungarian treasures to be discovered include the Széchenyi thermal bath, the largest medicinal bath in Europe, as well as the wonders of Buda castle.

Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South Africa, is the only independent state that sits entirely 1,000m or more above sea level. Explore some of the mountainous imagery captured by our Street View cars, including the winding roads and lakes.



Leribe District, Lesotho

Other sights include the Lesotho Evangelical Church, which is one of Africa's oldest Protestant churches, founded in 1833 by missionaries from Paris, and the traditional architecture in Nkesi, Maseru.

We’re also refreshing and expanding existing Street View coverage in France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore and Thailand. And, we’ve added new special collections of a host of picturesque spots—using our Street View Trike technology—including Portugal’s Pena National Palace, or the Sha Tin Che Kung Temple in Hong Kong or the Kilkenny Castle in Ireland.


Kilkenny Castle, Ireland

From the first handful of U.S. cities, to the now thousands of cities and villages worldwide, we’ve spent the past six years updating Google Maps for you. From Antarctica to Australia, from South Korea to South Africa, from the snow-capped peaks of Everest to the Great Barrier Reef, you can navigate more than 5 million miles of the world, without ever leaving home. So spin the globe and take a walk through any one of the 50 countries now on Street View.

Imagery on Google Maps of Fukushima Exclusion Zone Town Namie-machi

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)

Explore Everest, Kilimanjaro and more with Google Maps

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.

Public Alerts for Google Search, Google Now and Google Maps available in Japan

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.

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.

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.


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!

Mapping creates jobs and drives global economic growth

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.