You're invited to the unveiling of Seattle's most “boring” exhibit

Tunnel boring machine unveiled at
Milepost 31, 211 First Ave. S., Seattle
By guest blogger
KaDeena Yerkan

It’s not often someone would purposely advertise a new exhibit as boring, but in this case, the description fits. Because we’re literally talking about boring – a tunnel, that is.

All this boring-ness is taking place at Milepost 31 in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. For those who haven’t visited it yet, Milepost 31 is a new project information center for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. It provides an inside look at the SR 99 Tunnel Project, and celebrates the people and projects that shaped Pioneer Square.

Now, Milepost 31 was already a pretty exciting place to visit. It’s filled with artifacts and interactive exhibits that describe the tunnel, the neighborhood’s changing landscape and the role transportation has played in the city’s development. In fact, Milepost 31 recently received the American Association for State and Local History’s Leadership in History Award, the nation's most prestigious competition for achievement in state and local history.

But we’re not ones to rest on our laurels. Which is why we’re introducing a new exhibit in August - a 10-foot long, 1/35th-scale, motorized model of the massive SR 99 tunnel boring machine (TBM). The TBM is the most important part of this project. Its size and capabilities are what makes the tunnel possible. So having a working model that people can examine and explore will help us better explain what’s happening with the project as it progresses.

The public is invited to join in the fun on Aug. 2 when the model makes its debut. The event will include remarks by Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond followed by an open house and opportunity to talk with project engineers.
Unveiling of SR 99 tunnel boring machine model
6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2
(during the First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square)
Milepost 31, 211 First Ave. S., Seattle
If you can’t attend the unveiling, you can check out the model and other exhibits at Milepost 31 anytime between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. And remember, admission is free.

Nightmare on the Road

On May 31st of last year, a bus on an overnight trip from North Carolina to New York City crashed; killing four people and injuring more than 50 after the fatigued driver fell asleep at the wheel. Today, after a thorough investigation,  National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman put the blame on both the bus operator and federal regulators

Photo sourced from NBC Washington

While this crash was a tragic example of a commercial driver falling asleep at the wheel, this problem doesn’t only apply to those who drive for a living. In a 2010 study, the Foundation found that 2 out of 5 drivers (41%) reported ‘falling asleep or nodded off’ while driving at least once in their lifetime; one in 10 (11%) reported having done so within the past year, and 4% said they did so in the past month. 

Sleepiness can cause slower reaction time, lapses in judgment, vision impairment and delays in processing information. Studies has shown that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is the legal limit in all states. In other words, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving!

The same Foundation study found an estimated 1 in 6 of fatal crashes, 1 in 8 of crashes resulting in hospitalization, and 1 in 14 of all crashes in which a passenger vehicle is towed involved a drowsy driver. And, many researchers believe drowsy driving related crashes are grossly under-reported.

If you find yourself having difficulty keeping your eyes opened and focused, drifting from your lane or are unable to clearly remember the last few miles driven and/or traffic signs, it’s time to find a safe place to pull over and evaluate your options.

Here are some tips to remain alert and prevent falling asleep at the wheel while driving:
  • Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) the night before a long trip
  •  Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time – fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment and vision, causing people who are very sleepy to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk
  •  Travel at times when you are normally awake, and stay overnight rather than driving straight through;Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage. Since it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream, find a safe place to take a 20‐30 minute nap while you’re waiting for the caffeine to take effect
  • Travel with an awake passenger

For more information about drowsy driving, go to, and remember to mark your calendars November 11th -17th for Drowsy Driving Awareness Week!

Sparking a better conversation with Wildfire

Businesses around the world—from neighborhood restaurants to major retailers—are embracing social media to share information and forge stronger relationships with their fans and customers. We know because we are one of those businesses—on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Indeed, a social presence can complement all marketing campaigns—search, display, video, mobile, offline ads and more.

With this in mind, today we’re happy to share that the Wildfire team will be joining Google. Their co-founders, Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard, launched their startup just four years ago. Since then, they and their team have built a service that helps businesses like Virgin, Cirque du Soleil, Gilt Group and Spotify manage their social efforts across numerous social websites. It’s a platform for brands to manage their pages, apps, tweets, videos, sponsorships, ads, promotions and more, all in one place.

The ultimate goal is better and fresher content, and more meaningful interactions. People today can make their voices heard in ways that were previously impossible, and Wildfire helps businesses uphold their end of the conversation (or spark a new one).

In a complex and changing landscape, businesses want to manage and measure these efforts in an integrated way. We’ve been working towards this end for some time. For example, Google Analytics helps businesses measure the contribution of hundreds of social sites; our Admeld service has helped to serve ads in Facebook developers’ social apps; and our DoubleClick platform enables clients to run and measure ads across social websites. On Google+, brands use services like Vitrue, Buddy Media and others to manage their pages, with many more to come.

With Wildfire, we’re looking forward to creating new opportunities for our clients to engage with people across all social services. We believe that better content and more seamless solutions will help unlock the full potential of the web for people and businesses.

Update August 15, 2012: Our acquisition of Wildfire has now closed.

Make your mark on Google with Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search

Unlike searching on a desktop or laptop computer, when you're searching on a touch-screen mobile device it’s often inconvenient to type. So we strive to give you a variety of ways to interact with Google, be it by speaking your queries, getting results before you finish typing, or searching by image. Now there’s a new way for you to interact with Google: Handwrite for web search on mobile phones and tablets.

Say you’re standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch with your tablet. Handwrite enables you to search by just writing letters with your finger most anywhere on your device’s screen—there’s no keyboard that covers half of the screen and no need for hunt-and-peck typing.

Getting started is easy: go to in your mobile browser, tap on “Settings” at the bottom of the screen and enable “Handwrite.” Note that after you've saved the setting, you may need to refresh the homepage to see the feature.

On tablets, the Search settings are available as an option behind the gear icon.

Once the feature is enabled, tap the Handwrite icon on the bottom right corner of your screen to activate the writing surface. Write a few letters and you’ll see autocomplete options appear below the search box. If one of the options is what you’re looking for, just tap it to search. For longer queries, you can continue writing and use the arrows next to the autocompletions to move the right one into the search box. Since you can write anywhere, you don’t have to look back and forth repeatedly from the keyboard to the search box.

For more tips and tricks on how to use Handwrite, see our Help Center article. To make accessing faster, be sure to bookmark it and add it to your home screen.

We designed Handwrite to complement rather than replace typing: with the feature enabled, you can still use the keyboard at any time by tapping on the search box. Handwrite is experimental, and works better in some browsers than others—on Android devices, it works best in Chrome. For now, we’ve enabled Handwrite for iOS5+ devices, Android 2.3+ phones and Android 4.0+ tablets—in 27 languages.

Have fun with this new way of searching!

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)

Super fast fiber for Kansas City

Our goal is to build products that will help improve our users’ lives. And when it comes to Internet access, it's clear what provides a better user experience:

  • Fast is better than slow. On the web, nobody wants to wait for a video to buffer or a website to load.
  • Abundance is better than scarcity. There’s a plethora of rich content available online—and it’s increasingly only available to people who have the speeds and means to access it.
  • Choice is better than no choice. Competition and choice help make products better for users.
With that in mind, we embarked on a journey to bring ultra-high speeds to Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. And today, we’re excited to announce Google Fiber. Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today’s average broadband. No more buffering. No more loading. No more waiting. Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the web. Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.

When we asked people what they value in their Internet service, the majority of them simply said, “choice.” So we listened. Kansas Citians will choose where we install and when. We’ve divided Kansas City into small communities we call “fiberhoods.” To get service, each fiberhood needs a critical mass of their residents to pre-register. The fiberhoods with the highest pre-registration percentage will get Google Fiber first. Households in Kansas City can pre-register for the next six weeks, and they can rally their neighbors to pre-register, too. Once the pre-registration period is over, residents of the qualified fiberhoods will be able to choose between three different packages (including TV).

It’s easy to forget how revolutionary high-speed Internet access was in the 1990s. Not only did broadband kill the screeching sound of dial-up, it also spurred innovation, helping to create amazing new services as well as new job opportunities for many thousands of Americans. But today the Internet is not as fast as it should be. While high speed technology exists, the average Internet speed in the U.S. is still only 5.8 megabits per second (Mbps)—slightly faster than the maximum speed available 16 years ago when residential broadband was first introduced. Access speeds have simply not kept pace with the phenomenal increases in computing power and storage capacity that’s spurred innovation over the last decade, and that’s a challenge we’re excited to work on.

To find out more about the different service packages and the pre-registration process see our Google Fiber Blog, which we’ll regularly update with new information over the coming weeks. This is an exciting new project for Google and we can’t wait to get homes connected to Google Fiber in Kansas City—because we’re pretty certain that what people do with a gig will be awesome.

(Cross-posted from the Google Fiber Blog)

The winners of the 2012 Google Science Fair

Twenty-one of the world’s brightest young scientists gathered at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View today to celebrate their achievements and present their projects to a panel of renowned judges at the Google Science Fair finals.

Chosen from thousands of projects from more than 100 countries, these top 15 projects impressed the judges and public with their breadth of topics: from cancer research to vertical farming, 3D electronics to dementia. It was a tough decision, but we’re proud to name these three projects the winners of this year’s Google Science Fair:

  • 13-14 age category: Jonah Kohn (USA)—“Good Vibrations: Improving the Music Experience for People with Hearing Loss Using Multi-Frequency Tactile Sound.” By creating a device that converts sound into tactile vibrations, Jonah’s project attempts to provide the hearing impaired with an improved experience of music.
  • 15-16 age category: Iván Hervías Rodríguez, Marcos Ochoa and Sergio Pascual (Spain)—“La Vida Oculta del Agua (The Secret Life of Water).” Iván, Marcos and Sergio studied hidden microscopic life in fresh water, documenting the organisms that exist in a drop of water, and how those organisms influence our environment.
  • 17-18 age category AND Grand Prize Winner: Brittany Wenger (USA)—“Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer.” Brittany’s project harnesses the power of the cloud to help doctors accurately diagnose breast cancer. Brittany built an application that compares individual test results to an extensive dataset stored in the cloud, allowing doctors to assess tumors using a minimally-invasive procedure.

Each of the winners will receive prizes from Google and our Science Fair partners: CERN, LEGO, National Geographic and Scientific American. This evening, we also recognized Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Mahlalela, from Swaziland, the winners of the Scientific American Science in Action award.

The judges were impressed with the quality of all the projects this year—and by the ingenuity, dedication and passion of the young scientists who created them. We applaud every contestant who submitted a project to the 2012 Google Science Fair and look forward to seeing the innovations, inventions and discoveries of young scientists in the years to come.

WSDOT buys 11 days a year on I-5

By guest blogger Jamie Holter

The I-5 express lanes run 9.5 miles and
provides extra capacity in the direction of travel.
Wait, what? How is that possible? Ok, ok, we’re not actually “buying” 11 days. We’re more like saving a bunch of time that adds up to 11 days a year. Let me explain.

You know those express lanes we have on I-5 that run through Seattle? It used to take several people up to an hour to switch all the signs and gates by hand just to reverse the direction of traffic. That meant there was nearly an entire hour when traffic couldn’t use the express lanes. But not anymore.

The express lanes are now automated. Engineers can now reverse the direction of traffic from a desk in Shoreline in just 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes! That’s a savings of 45 minutes every day, and that adds up to an extra 11 more days of access to the express lanes.

The express lanes run southbound from 5 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday. At 11 a.m., a traffic engineer uses the 45 new cameras to visually review all 23 access ramps to confirm no vehicles are present. They then use desktop computers to communicate with new gate controllers and sign connections to close the express lanes. After a team pulls the express lane dragnet and completes a safety sweep, the engineer then opens the lanes northbound at 11:15 a.m.

The same system will be in place on weekends with the closing time scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and the reopening at 1:45 p.m.

Engineers estimate that an extra 900 to 1000 vehicles will have access to the lanes and it will save the average midday driver nearly six minutes from Albro to Northgate. That will be a big help to businesses like plumbers, delivery truck drivers and others who make a living driving Puget Sound during the day.

Affiliate Payout - Effectiveness Of Online Check Issuing Service

Affiliate Payout can be located today over the web as forums or forums though the deficit of Body gestures along with the connections relating to the class users. Personally interviews offer the best reply rates far from phone as well as send studies, because of Online Check Issuing Service personal element found. Furthermore there is not any insufficient manage regarding who appear to wraps up the survey, helping you to targeted your existing visitors. This is a many more flexible, probing is a lot easier along with the job interviewer could invite a great deal more caution or perhaps be effective at activate this use a full answer. This can be performed through the phone also nonetheless time force plus the a smaller amount personalized predicament will limit it really is utilize. Additionally Powerpoint slides are available, for instance illustrating an item or service idea.

Feasible Affiliate Payout negatives include substantial costs and as well producing prejudice responses, due to profile on the interviewer, top around socially appealing responses and also the regarding sensitive information. Basically, participants could possibly believe that the specific science tecnistions is the personal lifestyle. Possibly the most important things to consider for a marketer online whenever taking some pot venture partner system will be the type and size online marketer pay out. There are various techniques for getting given, in addition to the shell out varies among diverse items. In the following paragraphs Let me explain your dissimilarities between Online Check Issuing Service, in conjunction with Spend per Lead. These concepts have got diverse qualities along with a greater idea of them will help someone to achieve affiliate marketing online.

Just one Affiliate Payout approach that's traditionally suited for web marketing will be Pay-per-click, otherwise referred to as Paid advertising traffic. How this operates would be the fact every time a customer clicks the actual offer, the exact affiliate marketing online earns revenue. You will discover each benefits and drawbacks on this approach. A plus is definitely its convenience; all you have to accomplish is often select what program to join up. A fresh very bad thing is when you happen to be happy to function hard you possibly can make more money using other Online Check Issuing Service. A very easy solution to earn money is via Pay for every Sales, or perhaps. The internet marketing simply tutorials buyers towards provide you via a web-based hyperlink on their website. When a purchase is established, your affiliate payment is often assessed to be a variety of your sale made as well as like a fixed amount a selling. Provided totally free themes you send are likely to be active, could possibly great potential to earn a major marketer payment using this technique.

Affiliate Payout strategy that may be quite lucrative is definitely Spend a Lead, called People. This idea is just like PPS plus targets referring folks. For anyone people recommend you will gain many commission, no sale has to be created. This sort regarding spend is commonly more lucrative while confronting online programs like insurance, finance institutions, or other businesses inside very cut-throat promotes. When your site objectives most of these grounds, Online Check Issuing Service may very well provide you with a higher affiliate pay. This can be a great idea to become listed on merely because normally maintain a substantial amount provides select from. As we discussed there isn't a single interact with while picking a partnership partner pay out technique. In the end, the fashion within your web site and just how considerably work you're to perform determines the best option to meet your requirements.

Ramadan traditions with a digital twist

Today, more than a billion Muslims around the world begin to observe the holy month of Ramadan, fasting from dawn to sunset. This year, we’re bringing some of the most venerable Ramadan traditions online.

We’re sharing the Islamic prayers live from Mecca on a dedicated YouTube channel. Millions of people from around the world will be able to experience and comment on the event by tuning in via video.

Ramadan is about more than just prayer; it is also a special moment to gather with friends and family. Muslims gather to watch special television shows produced for the holiday and shown only during Ramadan. Often the shows overlap in scheduling. This year, for the first time, YouTube is enabling people to watch their favorite shows anytime, anywhere. A new YouTube Ramadan channel lets viewers see more than 50 premium Ramadan shows the same day they air. In the clip below, famed Syrian actor Jamal Suliman appears in a drama:

Ramadan’s tastiest tradition is the food. After fasting through the day, families gather for evening break-the-fast meals called Iftar. Through Google+ Hangouts, we’re hosting 30 virtual get-togethers in the 30 days of Ramadan, in which celebrity chefs will share their favorite recipes and doctors will give tips on eating healthy.

The hangouts will engage people in subjects far beyond eating. Actors will talk about their favorite Ramadan shows. Poets will discuss literature inspired by the holiday. Religious figures will answer questions. Stay tuned to the Google Arabia page on Google+ for more details and join in.

We hope you enjoy experiencing your favorite Ramadan traditions with a digital twist this year. Ramadan Kareem!

Explore “This Exquisite Forest” with Chrome and London’s Tate Modern

This morning, in partnership with the Tate Modern in London, we released an online art experiment called This Exquisite Forest, which lets you collaborate with others to create animations and stories using a web-based drawing tool.

Seven renowned artists from Tate’s collection, including Bill Woodrow, Dryden Goodwin, Julian Opie, Mark Titchner, Miroslaw Balka, Olafur Eliasson and Raqib Shaw, have created short “seed” animations. From these seeds, anyone can add new animations that extend the story or branch it in a new direction. Or you can start a tree of your own with some friends. As more sequences are added, the animations grow into trees, creating a potentially infinite number of possible endings to each animation.

In addition to the website, an interactive installation will open on July 23 in the Level 3 gallery of Tate Modern. Trees seeded by Tate artists—and the contributions from the public—will be on display as large-scale projections. Gallery visitors may also contribute using digital drawing stations.

This Exquisite Forest uses several of Google Chrome’s advanced HTML5 and JavaScript features to produce a unique content creation and exploration experience. For example, the Web Audio API makes it possible for contributors to generate music to accompany their submissions. The project also runs on Google App Engine and Google Cloud Storage.

Please try it out at and contribute your own animation to help the forest grow.

More detailed maps in parts of Europe, Africa and Asia

Whether you’re travelling abroad or exploring your own city, the maps you carry with you should be comprehensive, accurate and easy to use. We're constantly making improvements to Google Maps to help you find and discover places that are meaningful to you no matter where you are. And today, we’re launching updated maps of Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lesotho, Macau, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore and Vatican City to do just that.

As was the case for past updates, our new maps are more detailed and precise. For example, in Ireland we now have excellent coverage of National Heritage Areas, as well as more detailed coastlines and bodies of water:

We’ve also added more accurate names and locations for major points of interest, such as airports, universities and public squares. Here you can see St. Mark’s Square in Venice, now with accurately aligned canals, 3D buildings and detailed labels of the countless number of places to be discovered.

We’ve also added better and more clearly labelled ferry routes in many places, such as the area below surrounding Naples, Italy. Traveling by ferry is one of my favorite ways to explore a city—I love looking back from the water at the cityscapes—and this improvement will help you find the ferry routes you need to do the same. You can even use Google Maps to get transit-based directions for ferries. We take into account ferry timetables to route you over water just easily as you might follow our driving directions over land.

In addition to the above changes, local roads on these maps are now more accurately distinguished from highways, and multi-lingual names are available for a larger proportion of roads in many of the updated countries. These improvements give you a better visual feel of the location, as well as make it easier to navigate the area when you're on the ground.

Of course, the world around us is always changing, so we’re making our “Report a problem” tool available in each of these countries as well. You can use it to send us a description of any corrections to be made, which we then incorporate into our maps, often within days.

Today’s improvements follow the recent expansion of our collection of Antarctic imagery, and are part of our ongoing effort to build maps that are comprehensive, accurate and easy to use. We've partnered with numerous authoritative sources to ensure that Google Maps is a living reflection of every corner of the globe. After all, a map is only as good as the data behind it. The maps that we've built will help ensure that you get correct and up-to-date information about the world around you.

Update 8:00pm: We're also making certain maps of the 11 countries listed above, plus Egypt, Poland and Ukraine, available offline in Google Maps for Android.

Web Lab: the magic of the Internet, brought to life

Inspiration comes in many forms and can influence you in unexpected ways. I can trace my own interest in programming to Babbage’s Analytical Engine, which fascinated me on my childhood visits to the Science Museum in London.

This idea that science and technology can inspire people is one that we hold close to our hearts. It’s also the thought behind a new exhibition we’re launching today online and at the Science Museum in London. We hope to inspire people around the world by showcasing the magic that the Internet makes possible.

Launching in beta, Web Lab is a set of five physical installations housed in the Science Museum in London. You can interact with them in person at the museum, or from anywhere in the world at By opening up the museum experience to the world online, Web Lab doesn’t play by the usual rules—a visitor’s location and museum opening hours no longer matter.

Each of the five experiments—Universal Orchestra, Data Tracer, Sketchbots, Teleporter and Lab Tag Explorer—showcases a modern web technology found in Chrome to explore a particular theme in computer science. For example, the Universal Orchestra experiment uses WebSockets to demonstrate real time collaboration as people from around the world make music together on custom-built robotic instruments housed in the Science Museum.

Please join us online or at the Science Museum in London (entry is free), and let us know what you think. True to its name, the year-long exhibition is a working lab, and we’ll continue to tinker with it based on your feedback.

Here’s to the next wave of Internet invention!

(Cross-posted from the Chrome Blog)

Pedestrians and Cars

When it comes to traffic safety, “man versus machine” is not an inspiring story.  If a ton or more of metal traveling at high speed collides with a person, the person nearly always loses the match-up.  That’s one of the reasons why car crashes rank among the leading causes of death in the United States.

Speed plays a big role in determining the risk of severe injury or death when a car hits a pedestrian.  A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study showed that the risk of a person dying from being hit by a car increases from 10 percent when the car is going 23 mph to 90 percent when the car is going 58 mph.

Injury rates are on a similar curve:  A pedestrian hit by a car moving at 16 mph has about a 10 percent chance of being injured; this increases to 90 percent when a car is going 46 mph. 

The AAA Foundation and its partners want to see those injury and fatality rates decline, reflecting a safer environment for all road users.  As a society, we can make that happen by reducing the risks of crashes occurring and reducing the risk of severe or fatal outcomes when crashes do take place.

Reducing speeds, especially in areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic, is a high priority.  Road designs that incorporate traffic calming, such as speed bumps, narrow lanes, and bends that force cars to slow down can all be effective tools. 

Features that keep cars and pedestrians apart, from sidewalks to pedestrian walkways, also help avoid crashes.  Traffic signals timed with pedestrians in mind can reduce encounters between vehicles and pedestrians, too.

But, as always, the fastest and easiest way to reduce crashes lies with you.  When you’re behind the wheel, share the road with pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users.  Slow down in areas where you know you may encounter pedestrians, including around schools, shopping centers, and offices.  And, pay attention.  In the second or two you look away to change the radio station or reset the GPS, a pedestrian can dart into the street in front of you with no warning.

When you’re a pedestrian, stay off the road when possible and monitor the traffic around you, so you can assess the risks you face.  Never assume that just because you can see vehicles  they can see you.

When traffic safety becomes a priority that everyone in our society values and pursues, all road users win.  And that’s a very inspiring story.

For more information on how you can become a safer road user, visit

Become an Antarctic explorer with panoramic imagery

In the winter of 1913, a British newspaper ran an advertisement to promote the latest imperial expedition to Antarctica, apparently placed by polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. It read, "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success." While the ad appears apocryphal, the dangerous nature of the journey to the South Pole is certainly not—as explorers like Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott and Shackleton himself discovered as they tried to become the first men to reach it.

Back in September 2010, we launched the first Street View imagery of the Antarctic, enabling people from more habitable lands to see penguins in Antarctica for the first time. Today we’re bringing you additional panoramic imagery of historic Antarctic locations that you can view from the comfort of your homes. We’ll be posting this special collection to our World Wonders site, where you can learn more about the history of South Pole exploration.

With the help of the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota and the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, we’ve added 360-imagery of many important spots, inside and out, such as the South Pole Telescope, Shackleton's hut, Scott’s hutCape Royds Adélie Penguin Rookery and the Ceremonial South Pole.

The ceremonial South Pole (View Larger Map)

The interior of Shackleton’s Hut demonstrates the host of supplies used in early 20th century Antarctic expeditions—everything from medicine and food to candles and cargo sleds can be found neatly stored inside. (View Larger Map)

With this technology, you can go inside places like Shackleton’s Hut (pictured above) and the other small wooden buildings that served as bases from which the explorers launched their expeditions. They were built to withstand the drastic weather conditions only for the few short years that the explorers inhabited them, but remarkably, after more than a century, the structures are still intact, along with well-preserved examples of the food, medicine, survival gear and equipment used during the expeditions. Now anyone can explore these huts and get insight into how these men lived for months at a time.

The landscape outside of Robert Falcon Scott’s supply hut conveys just how desolate the area is. For these early explorers, the supply huts were an oasis of warmth and comfort in a cold and inhospitable landscape. (View Larger Map)

This new imagery was collected with a lightweight tripod camera with a fisheye lens—equipment typically used to capture business interiors through the Business Photos program. We worked with this technology because of its portability, reliability and ease-of-use (our Street View trikes wouldn’t be much use in the snow).

The goal of these efforts is to provide scientists and travel (or penguin) enthusiasts all over the world with the most accurate, high-resolution data of these important historic locations. With this access, schoolchildren as far as Bangalore can count penguin colonies on Snow Hill Island, and geologists in Georgia can trace sedimentary layers in the Dry Valleys from the comfort of their desks. Feel free to leave your boots and mittens behind, and embark on a trip to Antarctica.

Posted by Alex Starns, Technical Program Manager, Street View

Google Ideas: joining the fight against drug cartels and other illicit networks

Violent illicit networks represent a trillion-dollar problem that affects every society in the world and claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year. For example, more than 50,000 people have died in the past five years as a result of the ongoing war in Mexico between rival drug cartels. And although data on this subject is scarce and often unreliable, in 2003 the UN estimated the value of the illicit drug market to be nearly $320 billion, greater than the gross domestic product of 88 percent of countries in the world—and that was almost 10 years ago. It’s clear that illicit networks—particularly those that are violent and coercive like drug smugglers, arms dealers and human traffickers—have a devastating human and financial impact on every nation.

We think Google can help. Eighteen months ago we launched Google Ideas with the belief that Google is in the unique position to explore the role that technology can play in tackling some of the toughest human challenges in the world. Our first area of focus was counter-radicalization; last year we convened the Summit Against Violent Extremism with former gang members, right-wing extremists, jihadists and militants as well as survivors of violent extremism. Among the many outcomes of the summit was a platform that we established as a one-stop shop for tackling violent extremism through formers and survivors.

Recently, we’ve expanded our focus to include violent illicit networks such as narco-trafficking, human trafficking, organ harvesting and arms dealing. We believe that technology has the power to expose and dismantle global criminal networks, which depend on secrecy and discretion in order to function. And for the past few months, we’ve been working with people fighting on the front line to gain a better understanding of what drives these networks and how they function.

This week, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival, we’re convening Illicit Networks: Forces in Opposition (or the INFO summit) in Los Angeles, Calif. Too often illicit networks are seen only in the silos of those who study them. This summit aims to break down those silos by bringing together a full-range of stakeholders, from survivors of organ trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor to government officials, dozens of engineers, tech leaders and product managers from Google and beyond. Through the summit, which lasts until Wednesday, we hope to discover ways that technology can be used to expose and disrupt these networks as a whole—and to put some of these ideas into practice.

We’ll be uploading videos from the summit to our YouTube channel. Keep up with the Summit via @googleideas and #infosummit2012, or take a look at the video below for a sneak peek.

75 year-old bridge near Cle Elum gets a new deck

By guest blogger Mike Westbay

(The Bristol Fill bridge is also known locally as the Taylor Bridge.)

What happens when we can see daylight through the holes in a bridge deck built in 1937? We close the bridge and hire a contractor to rip up the deck and put down a new one.

Concrete and steel gets ripped up in preparation for a
new bridge deck on SR 10 near Cle Elum.
On May 24, we closed scenic State Route 10 near Cle Elum to rip up the old Bristol Fill Bridge deck that has served drivers between Cle Elum and Ellensburg for some 75 years. From the 1930’s to the 1960’s, SR 10 was the main highway between Ellensburg and Cle Elum, then known as US 10 Sunset Highway.

Since a nearby section of I-90 was completed in 1967, SR 10 has become a quiet, scenic route enjoyed mostly by locals and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

Our bridge inspectors have monitored the deteriorating bridge deck conditions for years.  In the last five to 10 years, the bridge deck deteriorated significantly, requiring constant structural safety monitoring and frequent repairs.  The deteriorated condition required the entire length of the bridge deck to be replaced.

Crews have been patching holes in the SR 10 bridge deck
for a decade.
Only local traffic will be allowed on SR 10 until sometime in October, when the project is scheduled to be completed. Local traffic (residents, farmers, rafters, anglers, bicyclists, and hikers) can use SR 10 east and west of the bridge, but through traffic will need to detour on SR 970 and US 97 or take Interstate 90. The length of the detour on SR 970 and US 97 is about 20 miles and the length of the detour on I-90 is about 21 miles.

For more history on SR 10 and I-90 visit: I-90 – Snoqualmie Pass East – History or get the book, “Snoqualmie Pass from Indian Trail to Interstate,” by Yvonne Prater.

Maker Camp on Google+ will be a blast!

From time to time we invite guests to post about items of interest, and we’re pleased to have Dale Dougherty, publisher of MAKE Magazine, join us today to talk about Maker Camp. Maker Camp is a free, online camp that encourages 13- to 18-year-olds to get creative with up to 30 different types of fun projects themed around creativity and “the art of making.” -Ed.

In the words of young maker Joey Hudy: “Don’t be bored. Make something.”

That’s the idea behind Maker Camp, a new online “summer camp” on Google+. Over the course of six weeks, 13- to 18-year-olds (as well as their parents and teachers) will have the opportunity to collaborate with popular maker personalities—including Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing, Stephen and Fritz of EepyBird (the Coke and Mentos guys), Jimmy DiResta (co-host of Dirty Money on the Discovery Channel) and Limor Fried (founder of Adafruit)—and other creative teens on fun projects themed around “the art of making.” Our goal is to encourage everyone this summer to make something and share it with their friends and family.

Making is a wonderful way to experiment and explore, to try to do new things, and mostly to let your imagination get the best of you. Making is fun (and it’s also a great way to learn, even if it is summer!). Making can be done indoors—even in a small space, like a kitchen table—but it’s also great to go outdoors to make things you can play with in the backyard or park. Making could mean traditional arts and crafts projects, or science projects, but it could also use innovative technologies and processes that enable you to create something entirely new.

Every Monday through Thursday morning, beginning Monday, July 16, a Maker Camp counselor will post how-to instructions for a new project on and Some of these projects will overlap with ones in MAKE’s 3D “School’s Out” special issue, our first-ever summer issue devoted entirely to kids. These projects are great for families to do together or for teens to do on their own. Many of the projects involve materials and tools that you can find around the house. Junior counselors will host a Hangout On Air in the afternoon so campers can post questions and comments and share photos and videos of their projects.

The first project at Maker Camp is our popular compressed air rocket that we first introduced in Make: Vol 15 to huge response. We featured it again in the “School’s Out” summer issue and are delighted that rocket guru Rick Schertle is our guest counselor for this project and will be with us in New York to launch Maker Camp at the New York Hall of Science.

It wouldn’t be summer camp unless you were able to meet a lot of great, new friends who share your love of making. You’ll find that other campers will inspire you to come up with new ideas for projects.

Maker Camp is free, and open to everyone with a Google+ profile (you must be over 13 to have your own Google+ profile). To participate, simply follow MAKE on Google+.

Whether you build rockets or race cars, make T-shirts or experimental music, or discover nature or new things in the community where you live, I hope that you’ll have a blast at Maker Camp.

New ramps let drivers take flight at Federal Way interchange

Crews installed steel girders over southbound I-5
 the nights of Feb. 10-11, 2012. The girders
 support new flyover ramps at the I-5/SR 18 interchange.

by guest blogger Erica Taylor

What do Olympic trials, a multinational sporting event and the world’s largest private softwood timberland owner have in common? Believe it or not, they’re all based in Federal Way. This not-so-sleepy town of Federal Way hosted the 2012 Olympic Dive Trials, the 1990 Goodwill Games and is home to Weyerhaeuser, the world’s largest private owner of softwood timberland.

Even if you’re not an elite athlete, and don’t need timber, you may take I-5 or SR 18 through Federal Way and wonder how long you’ll have to sit in traffic trying to get to Wild Waves. Wonder no more. Thanks to a partnership with local, state and federal officials, WSDOT is ready turn over a new leaf at this interchange. Actually, WSDOT is taking out the old cloverleaf ramps and replacing them with new flyover ramps. The flyover ramp is a newer design that can efficiently handle the amount of traffic at this interchange and will turn the former white-knuckle weave into an easy merge.

Watch a video of the project's progress

The I-5/SR 18 interchange is more than a stop on the Olympic road to London; it’s also a major transportation corridor for commerce and for local commuters. With 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles using each ramp daily, the previously state-of-the-art cloverleaf ramp design from the 1960s was becoming a traffic headache. Add to that a consistently growing population – Federal Way has grown from 67,304 residents in 1990 to 89,306 residents in 2010 – and WSDOT and local officials agreed that something needed to be done to revamp the ramps. After much consideration, the new flyover ramp emerged as the best option.

Construction on the first phase of improvements to the I-5/SR 18/SR 161 “triangle” interchange began in summer 2010, and crews plan to wrap up work ahead of schedule later this year. New ramps between I-5 and SR 18 will open July 16 and July 23, with other ramp improvements scheduled to open this fall. WSDOT even has plans for a next phase of construction in the area. Though that work doesn’t have a start date yet, local officials have clear ideas of what they would like to see improved.

Whether you’re transporting goods from Washington to Oregon, headed to work, or maybe just considering a trip to Wild Waves (on that one day a year that it’s warm enough to go) the new flyover ramps will make the SR 18/I-5 interchange safer and more efficient for everyone.

Street View goes on a road trip through California's national parks

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.

View Larger Map

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:

View Larger Map

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.

View Larger Map

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.

View Larger Map

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.

View Larger Map

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.

View Larger Map

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.

View Larger Map

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

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)

Buckle up! The roadway did...

The viral video of a car being launched airborne by a buckled Wisconsin highway may already be old news, but – given that we’re less than three weeks into the summer of 2012 – the conditions that created this dangerous situation hardly are. Many of us have already endured record-breaking heat and powerful storms – and it’s not yet even mid-July.

As we gulp down bottle after bottle of water, head to the pool, crank up the AC, take refuge in movie theaters, and find other ways of beating the heat, it’s important to remember that our vehicles need some TLC to survive these brutal months, too. And when the heat’s this bad, breakdowns can be particularly problematic, as motorists may be stranded in extreme temperatures with insufficient water and shade.

To protect yourself and your car this summer, make sure to check and top off vital fluids to keep your engine running smoothly and avoid overheating. Ensure that your tires are inflated properly, as extreme temperatures exacerbate the risk of a blowout. Keep sufficient fuel in your tank in case power failures or long lines at the pump make it difficult to find accessible gas stations in your area. If storm debris has damaged your windshield, have it replaced or repaired as soon as possible. And always carry some extra water in the trunk, just in case.

Of course, extreme heat and humidity often culminate in severe storms, which can bring down trees and utility lines, and create sudden changes in visibility and roadway conditions. Be on the lookout for fallen branches, and intersections with traffic signals that have lost power (which should be treated as all-way stops). Be patient with changes in traffic patterns, and remember that spending a few extra minutes sitting in your air-conditioned car is probably not such a bad thing after all. Taking these and other precautions can go a long way toward ensuring you – and your car – make it through the summer safely.

And remember: always wear your seatbelt. After all, you never want to encounter a situation in which the roadway is buckled…and you’re not.

Google+ app for iPad available now in the App Store

In May, we redesigned the Google+ experience for iPhone, adding full bleed photos that fall into place and bold visual elements that bring your stream to life. Today, we’re introducing new features for iPhone and an iPad app that you won’t be able to put down.

A hands-on iPad experience
The Google+ app for iPad was designed with the device in mind. Your stream styles content based on popularity, type and orientation. We’ve also added unique ways to interact with the app—lean back and try these out:

  • Pinch and expand posts right in your stream to add your comments
  • Use two fingers to drag a post from your stream to easily re-share it
  • Start a Hangout from your iPad and stream it to your TV using AirPlay

Bring your Stream to life with the new iPad app

A new way to save the date on iPhone
We recently launched Events on Google+, and now you can create and manage them right from your iPhone. Post a comment, upload a photo or check out who’s going. Your past event invitations are saved with all the photos and posts shared by your friends, so you can relive the party anytime you want.

Plan your next event with Google+

Start a Hangout from anywhere
There’s nothing like catching up with friends face to face. Now you can start a video chat with up to nine friends anywhere, anytime with Hangouts on iPhone and iPad. Turn on ringing notifications so your friends know to join the Hangout.

Talk face to face to face from your iPhone or iPad

To get started, tap “Hangout” from the main menu, add some friends and tap “Start.” We'll ring their phones (if you want), and if someone misses the hangout, they can ring you back with a single tap.

These updates are available now from the App Store (version 3.0), so download Google+ and let us know what you think.

Indoor Google Maps help you make your way through museums

In the past, navigating through museums could be an art form in and of itself. But Google Maps for Android has got wayfinding inside your favorite museums down to a science. With indoor maps and walking directions for U.S. museums now available on your Android phone or tablet, you can plan your route from exhibit to exhibit, identifying points of interest along the way, including between floors.

Today, we’ve added more than twenty popular U.S. museums to our collection of over 10,000 indoor maps that we launched in November: the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Cincinnati Museum Center, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and 17 Smithsonian museums—plus a zoo!

"My location" in the American Museum of Natural History, New York City

To access the floor plans, simply open Google Maps on your Android phone or tablet and zoom in on the museum of interest. To find the museum, either search for it by name using the magnifying glass icon or, if you’re already there, use the “My location” feature to orient yourself. With the “My location” feature enabled you can even get indoor walking directions.
Indoor walking directions in the National Air and Space Museum—Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

More museums are adding their floor plans to Google Maps for Android soon, including the SFMOMA, The Phillips Collection, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. If you’re interested in getting your museum’s floor plan included in Google Maps, visit the Google Maps Floor Plans tool.

Along with the Google Art Project, indoor mapping is one more way we’re working with museums to bring greater access to revered cultural and educational institutions around the world. Tap into the latest version of Google Maps for Android in Google Play, and enjoy exploring the art and science of the great indoors.

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)

Join the Voice of Washington

The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) recently launched the Voice of Washington State (VOWS) statewide public engagement program, which includes seven regional online discussion forums and an online survey panel. The WSTC is asking state residents to log on to to sign up and share input on how to improve the state’s transportation system.

Individuals can join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums and publicly voice their opinions, post ideas and interact with other citizens in their community. They can also join the VOWS Survey Panel to participate in occasional online surveys. The Commission is using the new online forum technology to empower citizens to become thought-leaders on transportation
“Sparking a robust conversation around transportation issues, and collecting survey data that indicates people’s opinions and thoughts on policy and funding approaches, will help decision makers identify possible solutions and investment priorities,” noted Reema Griffith, executive director of the WSTC. “When people share what matters to them when they drive, ride, bike, walk or fly within their communities, their needs can be more effectively addressed.”

The ultimate goal is to gather public input on Washington state transportation policy and funding, and to inform the statewide discussion and decision-making process. Topics for discussion will focus on all things transportation: highways, mass transit, freight and high-speed rail, ferries, barges and aviation. The governor and Legislature will be briefed on the ideas and data generated through the online discussion forums and surveys.

The combination of the online survey and the regional online discussion forums is a new outreach strategy for the WSTC. While the Commission has conducted successful phone and email surveys through the Ferry Riders Opinion Group for a few years, the primary community input tool has been public meetings. The online tools remove the distance and travel barriers inherent to public meetings; this increases the opportunity for everyone – no matter where they live – to participate and share their views.

Details about the VOWS program components are as follows:

  • The VOWS Online Discussion Forums are for publicly sharing, voting and commenting on regional and statewide transportation ideas. Participants can join any or all of the seven regional discussion forums.
  • The VOWS Survey Panel is a way for citizens to communicate their opinions and preferences by taking occasional surveys on transportation policy, funding and tax issues. The result is statistically valid data representing the priorities and opinions of Washington state residents. The input from individuals is anonymous because the survey company does not attach personal information to the survey results. Each participant will receive the surveys through email.
The seven regional discussion forums are: West (Region 1), North Puget Sound (Region 2), Central Puget Sound (Region 3), Southwest (Region 4), Central (Region 5), Northeast (Region 6) and Southeast (Region 7).  Discussions within each forum will focus on both region-specific issues as well as statewide topics, such as roads and pedestrian safety.

Any Washington state resident is eligible to join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums or the VOWS Survey Panel. Registration is limited to one email address per person; submission of the person’s name, email address and county is all that is required to set up a VOWS account for participation.

Big Tent Sendai: Smarter ways to share information in a crisis

As we’ve seen in the last decade, information technology can save lives in a crisis. But even as data becomes more crucial to rescue efforts, key information like evacuation routes, shelter locations and weather alerts often remains inaccessible to the public. Time is of the essence in the wake of a disaster, and it's critical for emergency information to be available in open standards and formats to enable instant communication among first responders and affected populations.

This was the theme of our first Big Tent in Asia, held yesterday in Sendai, Japan. The event brought together tech industry leaders, non-profits, volunteers and government officials to discuss how technology can better assist in preparing for, responding to and rebuilding from disasters. This is an extremely pertinent issue for the Asia-Pacific region, as nearly 70 percent of fatalities from natural disasters occur here. And with the earthquake and tsunami last year affecting the coastal regions of Northeastern Japan, Sendai was a particularly meaningful location to discuss new ways that technology can aid the efforts of responders to reduce the impact and cost of disasters.

During the panels, the audience heard stories about how two Pakistani volunteers mapped their home country so well through Google MapMaker that the UN’s mapping agency UNOSAT adopted the maps and provided them to aid workers during the Pakistan floods. Sam Johnson, Founder of the Christchurch Student Army and Young New Zealander of the Year, talked about using Facebook to quickly coordinate relief efforts on the ground after the earthquakes in Christchurch in 2010 and 2011. Twitter Japan Country Manager James Kondo talked about Japanese earthquake victims tweeting with the hashtag “stranded” in order to find help. Meanwhile representatives of open source project Ushahidi talked of “brainsourcing” reporters on the ground and remote volunteers to keep the world abreast of conditions in disasters such as the earthquake in Chile in 2010.

After the panels, conversations and debates, four key themes emerged. First, there is a conflict between traditional closed data architectures and emerging open models—and we need to close the gap between them. Second, we need to find complementary ways to embrace both authoritative data from official sources and crowdsourced data. Third, there’s a universal need for data, but they way it’s shared needs to be tailored to the local environment—for example, Internet-reliant countries vs. SMS-reliant countries. Finally, we were reminded that beyond the data itself, communication and collaboration are key in a crisis. Information isn’t worth anything unless people are taking that information, adapting it, consulting it and getting it to the people who need it.

One of the panels at Big Tent Sendai

Crisis response tools will continue to improve and more people across the globe will own devices to quickly access the information they need. But there are still major challenges we must address. As Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction said, we can now get quick warnings and alerts to many populations on their phones, but many who receive the alerts don’t know how to act.

To see clips from Sendai and previous events, visit the Big Tent YouTube channel, where you can also join in the debate via comments, get more information on the presenters and see how different communities approach many of the same issues. We’ll hold more Big Tents in Asia soon, so please check back on our website to learn more.