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In 2011, Google Earth Outreach launched a new program to fund nonprofits that want to create cutting-edge maps for public good. Today, we’re excited to announce the winners of the 2012 Google Earth Outreach Developer Grants program. We’ve selected eight nonprofit organizations, listed below, that have presented a compelling ideas for a new map or mapping technology that will make a positive impact on the world. Each winner received a grant to support the technical development of their map. The winners include:

Organization*
Idea
The Royal Canadian Geographical SocietyA Developing World: a Maps API application containing UN Human Development Index data
Clinton Health Access InitiativeGetting to Zero in Southern Africa: A Temporal and Spatial Map of Malaria Progress
SamSamWater FoundationRainwater Harvesting Tool: Calculate Your Drinking Water using Google Maps
Wild SouthCherokee Trails: Google Earth tours, a map, and an Android app documenting Cherokee Indian geography and the struggle of the Cherokee to remain in their homeland.
InternewsChange of States Map: a Maps API application documenting local impacts and adaptations to climate change in the US.
Vanishing Worlds Foundation / World Oral Literature Project / Language LandscapeLanguage Landscape: an Extensible Model for Mapping Language Dynamics
the Jane Goodall InstituteCommunity-based Forest & Wildlife Monitoring: Scaling Up and Sharing Dynamically Generated Maps
Atlantic Public MediaMonarch Migration: a Google Earth Tour


Work is already in progress on each of the projects, so check back on our Developer Grants page in the coming months to see these maps come to life, and to explore maps created by last year’s grantees.


Watch this video to see an example of a Google Earth Tour made possible by the 2011 Developer Grants program is the Arctic Tern Migration, created by the Atlantic Public Media.

We’re very excited about the organizations that were funded this year, and we wish to thank these hardworking organizations who are improving conditions for people and the planet.

Posted by Tanya Birch, Google Earth Outreach

*These organizations were funded through the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund at the Tides Foundation.

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This blog post was cross-posted from the Google Lat Long post from Friday. We have however added in some information for developers.

When you look at Google Maps, we want you to see the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-understand representation of the entire world. Friday, we unveiled some visual improvements to the basemap that will help enable that goal, and for Maps API Developers we’ve added in some selectors to help you style this experience how you like.

Google Maps now clearly shows terrain, color gradations to depict vegetation, and labels for natural land formations. This enriched visual data allows you to quickly and easily see where the great forests, deserts, and mountain ranges around the world begin and end. It also conveys how natural land formations can impact where, how and why man-made developments like urban cities, dams and bridges are made.

For example, here’s how Southern Asia appeared before terrain and vegetation information was added:


And on the improved map below, you can now clearly see the dry deserts of Pakistan, the rocky Himalayas, and the rich jungles of Laos.


Another great example is the area north of Vancouver, Canada. Here’s how it appeared before:


And here’s the same area that now accurately shows the mountainous and rocky terrain in that area, immediately providing insight into why cities and settlements have been developed further south, rather than in the hilly landscape.


In addition to terrain and vegetation information, labels for large natural features are also now available when searching on Google Maps. Ever wonder where the Amazon Basin is? A previous search on Google Maps provided the below result:



But now, helpful labels provide more clarity:



So when you search Google Maps for dozens of natural land formations like the Gobi Desert,Melville Peninsula, or Nullarbor Plain, you’ll see improved, well-labeled results.

Developers using the Google Maps API may want to change the look and feel of the terrain and land cover. For instance, you might want to mute the color of the land cover.





So we’ve added in two new selectors that help you style these additions to maps, landscape.natural.landcover and landscape.natural.terrain. These selectors allow you to style these features howow you like, so that you can make it match the look and feel that you’re going for on your web site. For more information on map styles, check out our Styled Maps documentation, and head over the Styled Maps Wizard to play with the new selectors.

We hope this new visual information literally provides you with a more comprehensive and accurate lay of the land, and comes in handy whether you’re planning a trip or just browsing the map. From lush rolling hills to expansive deserts, just click and explore!

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

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After a one week hiatus, Fab Friday is back, and let me tell you, I missed you. To celebrate, I brought you something...two more videos!

Last week, Paul Saxman and I did a roundup of recent Google Maps API announcements, including the release of the Google Maps Time Zones API and the inclusion of traffic information in driving directions. Here’s the video:




This week, Paul teamed up with Brendan Kenny for a Maps Developer Live event: Visualizing Data with the Google Maps API: A Journey of 245k Points. They looked at a really interesting data set of digitized ships logs from the 18th and 19th centuries. The results, entirely rendered in the browser, are beautiful and useful.


Check out the video:


Speaking of videos, here’s our our official playlist of Google Maps Developers Live events:



Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

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Map of the Week: Upande’s Virtual Kenya

[Editors Note: Earlier this month we lauched morethanamap.com to showcase the unique features of the Google Maps API. As part of this project, each week we’ll be featuring one story from our global community of developers who are using the Google Maps API to start businesses, help improve their communities or save the environment.]

This week we move on from Bangkok to Nairobi where we met with the Upande Ltd team at their office in the home of Mark de Blois. Upande is a development shop in Nairobi, Kenya that provides web mapping and GIS solutions expertise to a diverse range of enterprise, NGO, and public sector clients. Although Upande is relatively small (about 10 employees at the time of our visit), the tightly knit team is creating a big impact around the world with the Google Maps and Google Earth powered Virtual Kenya project.

Virtual Kenya is an online interactive platform designed to allow more Kenyans to use and interact with spatial data in both educational and professional pursuits. Users can view, download, publish, share, and comment on various maps covering topics such as water sanitation, wildlife, or politics. According to Upande the goal of the Virtual Kenya project is to, “promote increased data sharing and spatial analysis for better decision-making, development planning and education in Kenya, while at the same time demonstrating the potential and use of web-based spatial planning tools."


A big part of Virtual Kenya is making the data interactive and visually exciting, while also easy to access. To do this the Upande team uses the Google Earth API which allows them to use 3D map visualization directly on the site. In the screenshot above is an interactive tour that describes Kenya's tourism sector guided by Google Earth. This tour focuses on major attractions, national parks, environmental challenges, and areas that could be used to improve the industry. The full list of Virtual Kenya’s tours cover a variety subjects, such as deforestation, population issues, and threats to wildlife. Beyond the tours, there’s also a list of more Google Maps based mashups that help users learn more about a variety of subjects such as the Turkana Oil Fields, water quality, and aspiring politicians.

In the video below, Upande geo engineer Bernadette Ndege gives a live demonstration of how Virtual Kenya works.



Many thanks to the Upande team for inviting us into their office and sharing with us their latest projects. To learn more about Upande and the things that you can do with the Google Maps API, visit morethanamap.com. You can also see more pictures from our visit to Upande on Google+. Tune in next week to read about our visit with Ubilabs in Hamburg, Germany.

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Since launching the the Google Places API Developer Challenge in August, developers around the world have been busy collaborating with major municipalities to create applications that address the most pressing needs in our communities. Based on feedback from developers, who want more time to create really impactful apps, we’ve decided to extend the deadline for the challenge through the end of November 2012.

The challenge invites developers to create apps that improve their communities or governments by using the Google Places API and its database of places and tools to create innovative applications.

With a global database of more than 95 million places powering Google Maps, the Google Places API enables you to search for information about a broad range of places around the world.  We also provide links to more than 30,000 interesting data sets on the Google Places API Challenge site at http://developers.google.com/places/challenge.

Check out this video to learn more about the objectives of the challenge. 
Submissions are pouring in and we look forward to seeing all of the great applications that are submitted by November 30, 2012.  Public voting, as well as official judging by our panel of experts in civic innovation and application development, will begin in December 2012.  Awards for both People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice will be announced in January 2013.  Developers of the winning applications will enjoy an immersive VIP experience at Google I/O 2013, along with other prizes. We look forward to seeing what happens when the Google Places API meets inspired developers!
Posted by Rob Gray, Global Marketing Manager, Google Maps and Earth (Enterprise)
Rob Gray leads the marketing team for Google Maps and Earth Enterprise, which includes products such as the Google Maps API, Google Maps Engine, Google Maps Coordinate and Google Earth Pro. Rob has been working in the technology industry for over 15 years in a variety of roles across marketing sales and product management.

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Cross-posted from yesterday's post to the Google Enterprise Blog, where we announced two new enterprise features.


Businesses have a lot of moving parts – sometimes quite literally. Map-based information is useful for any business that relies on a fleet of vehicles, employees who travel, or other mobile resources. To help organizations build their own location-enabled applications, we're launching two new APIs:
  • Google Maps Tracks API allows an organization to build applications that can store, display and analyze GPS data on a map.  The API is built on top of Google’s reliable cloud infrastructure and offers specialized features such as geo-fencing.

  • Google Maps Geolocation API enables an application or device to determine its own location without the use of GPS by looking up the locations of nearby wifi access points and cell towers. By limiting GPS usage, a device can save battery life and work indoors or in remote areas.

The Google Maps Tracks and Geolocation APIs allow an organization to develop customized location-based applications to meet specific business needs. The Google Maps Tracks API, for example, can provide a fleet management company with tools for analyzing data from past and present deliveries. By seeing routing information on a familiar Google Map, they can determine which routes can save time and fuel. Using the Google Maps Geolocation API, the fleet management company can equip its vehicles with advanced positioning capabilities.  Even in dense city blocks where GPS dropout is common, a dispatcher can still locate its fleet.  

The Google Maps Tracks API also allows businesses to take advantage of a technique called geo-fencing, where a company can create a virtual region on a map to notify a device when it enters or exits a predefined area. For example, the same fleet management company could set up notifications that would automatically alert drivers whenever they were 10 miles outside their delivery territory and need to turn around. Automated notifications could reduce dependence on a central dispatcher, allowing the delivery company to use their employees more efficiently.



Today, more than 800,000 developers worldwide use Google Maps APIs to create their own applications based on the unique capabilities of Google Maps. With the launch of Google Maps Tracks API and Google Maps Geolocation API, companies can use real-time location-based information to make their operation run more smoothly and efficiently.


Posted by Nabil Naghdy, Google Maps Product Manager

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Map of the Week: Computerlogy’s Thailand Flood map and SCB Bank Finder

[Editors Note: Earlier this month we lauched morethanamap.com to showcase the unique features of the Google Maps API. As part of this, each week we’ll be featuring one story from our global community of developers who are using the Google Maps API to start businesses, help improve their communities or save the environment.]

This week we move on from Sydney, Australia to Bangkok, Thailand where we met with Vachara Aemavat, founder of Computerlogy. Computerlogy is a development shop that specializes in building Google Maps powered applications. In addition to building enterprise-class applications, they’ve also donated their time and skills to help their community. Today we’ll focus on two projects from Computerlogy: a Thailand Flood Crisis Response map that uses the Google Elevation API and a store local for Siam Commercial Bank.

Helping people find high ground
During the 2011 monsoon season, severe flooding occurred in and around Bangkok. According to Wikipedia, “Sixty-five of Thailand's 77 provinces were declared flood disaster zones, and over 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi) of farmland was damaged.” As floods ravaged their community, the team at Computerlogy developed a map to help save people’s lives using the Google Elevation API. The Thailand Flood Crisis Response map allowed users to check the elevation of their home (or their family and friends) to determine if they would be affected by the flooding. From there, users shared this information across a variety of channels to alert friends and family who were affected and to offer suggestions of where to go to get out of harm’s way.


Helping people find an ATM
Computerlogy has worked with some of Thailand's biggest companies to build Google Maps powered applications, including the Siam Commercial Bank ATM locator. Some unique features of the map include Styled Maps and custom info windows. Vachara says they choose the Google Maps API for its flexibility and strong data coverage throughout Thailand.


Below you can view a video of Vachara going through a live demonstration of these two great examples of Google Maps API powered apps built by Computerlogy.



A big thanks to Vachara Aemavat, founder of Computerlogy, for inviting us into his office and sharing with us his latest projects. To learn more about Computerlogy and the things that you can do with the Google Maps API, visit morethanamap.com. Tune in next week to read about our visit with Upande in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Once again, Friday rolls around and it’s time for some Fab...Friday that is.
Author Photo
This week, we have another video for you. On Monday, Paul Saxman sat down with Luke Mahe and Chris Broadfoot, who were visiting Mountain View from Sydney, to discuss The Inner Awesomeness of More Than a Map, a new site that launched last week, showcasing the power of the Google Maps API. Luke and Chris discussed building the site and showed off some of the great samples.




Next week, Paul and I will review some of the recent launches and things you might have missed in the Google Maps API in our Maps API Round-Up.

And if you’re in Portland this weekend, Josh Livni and I will be at State of the Map US, and WhereCamp PDX. Hope to see you there!

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Working in Google’s Sydney office gives a person a particular appreciation for the time zones of the world.  The time difference between Sydney and our headquarters in Mountain View, California can make it difficult to connect with teams and find suitable meeting times.  More often than not, we Sydney engineers have been woken by 2am calendar reminders and email notifications sent from colleagues from around the world.  Sleep deprivation has just been a part of the job!  

Fortunately, help is at hand (especially for our sleep-patterns) with the release of time zone functionality in the Google Maps API.

The API returns information about (you guessed it) the time zone of a particular location on Earth at a particular point in time. The response contains information such as the IANA Time Zone ID, long form name, offset from UTC and any offset due to daylight savings.

For example, here’s a request for time zone information for Sydney on the 5th of January, 2013:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/timezone/json?location=-33.86,151.20&timestamp=1357347600.0&sensor=false

The response is as follows:

{
  "dstOffset" : 3600.0,
  "rawOffset" : 36000.0,
  "status" : "OK",
  "timeZoneId" : "Australia/Sydney",
  "timeZoneName" : "Australian Eastern Daylight Time"
}


As you can see, we’re in Australian Eastern Daylight Time with a base offset of 10 hours from UTC. We also have an extra hour of evening light (as shown by dstOffset), perfect for the wonderful time Sydneysiders are having at the Sydney Festival opening night.

Regarding usage, developers have access to the API for up to 2,500 requests per day, while Google Maps API for Business customers receive 100,000 requests.  Full documentation is available here: http://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/timezone.

We hope that you find this new functionality useful, and that your colleagues elsewhere in the world, wherever they happen to be, can get a night of peaceful, undisturbed sleep.

Posted by Jez Fletcher, Software Engineer, Google Maps APIs

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Map of the Week: GetFlight.com.au

[Editors Note: Last week we lauched morethanamap.com to showcase the unique features of the Google Maps API. As part of this, each week we’ll be featuring one story from our global community of developers who are using the Google Maps API to start businesses, help improve their communities or save the environment.]

As part of morethanamap.com, we went around the world to speak with developers who are using the Google Maps API. Sydney, Australia was our first stop, where we met with GetFlight.com.au founder Ian Cumming at the Fishburners coworking space.

GetFlight is an Australian-based airfare search site that uses the Google Maps API to help users discover cheap airfare to global destinations. This site is tailored to Aussie travelers who don't have a particular location in mind and want to visualize where in the world they can travel within a certain price and date range. This ‘go anywhere’ exploratory travel site is something that’s really unique to the mindset of the Aussie travel. Another thing that really stands about GetFlight is that the entire site is built, operated, and maintained by Ian alone. It’s a true testament to the Australian entrepreneurial spirit.


The site takes advantage of Styled Maps and Google Maps API v3 to ensure that the site works on multiple devices. For GetFlight, it’s critical to their users’ experience that the site works as well on a tablet device as it does on a desktop. Using Styled Maps, Ian was able to create a more branded and simplified look for his application. There’s even the ability to view flight routes with geodesic lines which are more true to the actual flight paths. In the video below, Ian walks us through the ins and outs of his site and also shows us how the site works on multiple devices in real-time.



You may have noticed something a little peculiar next to Ian’s laptop in the video: an older model Dell Pentium 4 laptop. Ian uses this laptop to test and debug all his work. Ian’s philosophy is, “if I can make it work well on here [the older laptop], I know it’s going to be screaming fast there [his newer laptop and tablet].”

A big thanks to Ian Cumming, founder of GetFlight.com.au, for inviting us into his office and sharing with us his latest project. To learn more about GetFlight.com.au and the things that you can do with the Google Maps API, visit morethanamap.com. Tune in next week to read about our visit with Computerlogy in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Happy Friday! As the US moves to Fall, which my Sydney friends tell me should really be Autumn, but in Sydney is Spring, my thoughts naturally turn to videos. That’s right, it’s another video from Maps Developer Live. This week, I had a guest, Raleigh Seamster from the Google Earth Outreach team, who joined me to talk about the Geo for Good User Summit. Check out the video here:



Next week, Chris Broadfoot and Luke Mahe will join Paul Saxman to talk about how they made the More than a Map site happen. Tune in to take a peek through the browser window into the awesomeness that makes More than a Map more than just cool.

There’s a couple more great videos by Chris Broadfoot and Marcelo Camelo on the Places API which you should check out.


Getting started with the Google Places API


Q&A for Getting Started with the Google Places API


Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

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Time in current traffic has been a feature of Google Maps since March 2012. Today we are excited to announce this great feature for our Enterprise customers. Using both live and historic traffic data, the Google Maps API enables you to see the estimated length of time your journey might take. In areas where the information is available, this feature evaluates current traffic conditions and is constantly being refreshed with the most accurate, up-to-date estimate possible. 




If you are using the Directions API or the Directions Service in the Javascript Maps API, just make a simple change to your existing directions requests and the new data will be added to your response.

{ "routes" : [
 { "legs" : [
   {
     ...,
     "duration" : {
       "text" : "35 mins",
       "value" : 2093
     },
     "duration_in_traffic" : {
       "text" : "46 mins",
       "value" : 2767
     },
     ...
   }
 ]}
]}

Not a Geo Enterprise customer? Contact Sales now to take advantage of this and other awesome features. 


Posted by Dilshan Angampitiya, Software Engineer, Google Geo APIs

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We’re constantly working to build the most comprehensive, accurate and usable maps in the world for our users--no matter where or how they access Google Maps. While millions of people come directly to maps.google.com to search for a nearby business or get directions, many people around the globe experience Google Maps on their favorite website or application thanks to the Google Maps API (and some very talented developers). In fact, today 800,000 active websites and apps are using the Google Maps API to create interesting and useful experiences for you.

MoreThanAMap.com
To demonstrate the capabilities and features of the Google Maps API, today we’re launching a new website called morethanamap.com. This site showcases the unique features of the Google Maps API and how developers are using it.

Visit morethanamap.com to learn more!

Through morethanamap.com you’ll learn how developers can embed popular Google Maps features like Street View, public transit directions, location data, and advanced data visualization capabilities into their website or app. The interactive demos on morethanamap.com show how these features are ready to be added to any website or app.

Developers can use the Google Maps API to embed Street View imagery into their sites

Even if you’re not a developer, the animated London Heathrow flight map or global population heat map are a fun way to visualize data and explore the power of Google Maps.

Google Maps Developers Stories from Around the World
Morethanamap.com also features stories from our community of developers who are using the Google Maps API to start businesses, help improve their communities or save the environment. Starting next week we’ll showcase these stories weekly on the Geo Developers Blog. And follow us on Google+ to learn more.


With just a backpack and a camera Google Maps team member Carlos Cuesta went on a global tour to video blog six distinct developers who are creating thriving applications with the Google Maps API.

Start exploring what’s possible with the Google Maps API today at: morethanamap.com.