News and notes from Google Down Under
Wandering in the footsteps of the polar bear with Google Maps
Friday, February 28, 2014
[Cross-posted from the
Official Google Blog
This guest post is from Krista Wright, the executive director of
Polar Bears International
. We’ve partnered with PBI to share a fascinating look at polar bears in the wild using Google Maps.
In Inuit poetry, the polar bear is known as
, the ever-wandering one. Some of the most majestic and elusive creatures in the world, polar bears travel hundreds of miles every year, wandering the tundra and Arctic sea ice in search of food and mates. Today, with the help of Street View, we’re celebrating
International Polar Bear Day
by sharing an
intimate look at polar bears
in their natural habitat.
The Street View Trekker, mounted on a Tundra Buggy, captures images of Churchill’s polar bears
We’ve joined forces with Google Maps to collect Street View imagery from a remote corner of Canada’s tundra:
, home to one of the largest polar bear populations on the planet. With the help of outfitters
, the Google Maps team mounted the Street View Trekker onto a specially designed “
,” allowing us to travel across this fragile landscape without interfering with the polar bears or other native species. Through October and November we collected Street View imagery from the shores of Hudson’s Bay as the polar bears waited for the sea ice to freeze over.
View Larger Map
One of Churchill, Manitoba’s Polar Bears on Street View
Modern cartography and polar bear conservation
There’s more to this effort than images of cuddly bears, though. PBI has been working in this region for more than 20 years, and we’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact of warmer temperatures and
melting sea ice
on the polar bear’s environment. Understanding global warming, and its impact on polar bear populations, requires both global and regional benchmarks. Bringing Street View to Canada's tundra establishes a baseline record of imagery associated with specific geospatial data—information that’s critical if we’re to understand and communicate the impact of climate change on their sensitive ecosystem. As we work to safeguard their habitat, PBI can add Street View imagery to the essential tools we use to assess and respond to the biggest threat facing polar bears today.
Polar Bear International’s
We also use the Google Maps API to support our
, which illustrates the frozen odyssey these bears embark on every year. As winter approaches and the sea ice freezes over, polar bears head out onto Hudson Bay to hunt for seals. Bear Tracker uses of satellite monitors and an interactive Google Map to display their migration for a global audience.
Mapping the communities of Canada’s Arctic
Google’s trip north builds on work they’ve done in the Arctic communities of
. In the town of Churchill, the Google Maps team conducted a community
, which let participants use
to edit and add to the Google Map. From the
Town Centre Complex
, which includes the local school, rink and movie theatre, to the
bear holding facility
used to keep polar bears who have wandered into town until their release can be planned, the citizens of the Churchill made sure Google Maps reflects the community that they know.
But building an accurate and comprehensive map of Canada’s north also means heading out of town to explore this country’s expansive tundra. And thanks to this collaboration with Google Maps, people around the world now have the opportunity to virtually experience Canada’s spectacular landscape—and maybe take a few moments to wander in the footsteps of the polar bear.
Posted by Krista Wright, Executive Director of Polar Bears International
Guest post from Bravehearts: Protecting Australia's children from harm
Friday, February 28, 2014
Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from Hetty Johnston, Founder and CEO of Bravehearts
Keeping our children safe from sexual assault is a challenge that requires everyone in a community to work together -- law enforcement, Internet companies and civil society groups alike. While we may never be able to entirely prevent the kind of crimes that we hear coming to light via the
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, we must all pull together to do everything we can to protect children from harm.
Bravehearts has been using Google’s technology to help promote the services we provide in this area. Right now, through
(a service available to any Australian non-profit), Bravehearts is receiving more than 1,000 hits a week to the Bravehearts
Royal Commission Support Services website
to help victims of child sexual assault. When people search for terms like ‘Royal Commission’ or ‘Child Abuse Prevention Services’, Google puts up a free ad directing people to our site.
Technology can help in other ways too. We’re pleased to see the warnings Google is now showing at the top of search results for queries associated with explicit child sexual abuse terms. The warnings make it clear that child sexual abuse is illegal, provide information on how to report abuse, and offer advice on where to get expert help. People can click through to find the right information about reporting illegal material to the appropriate authorities.
We also applaud Google’s ongoing work to combat child sexual exploitation, working with and seeking advice from organisations like Bravehearts to better understand the ever-changing landscape of offender behaviour and language.
We are optimistic that measures and technologies developed by civil society groups in partnership with the technology industry will help make a real difference in the fight against these terrible crimes.
Posted by Hetty Johnston, Founder and CEO of
Google Science Fair: Taking life-changing ideas from Asia to the world
Friday, February 14, 2014
Bright young minds from the Asia-Pacific region have tackled some of the world’s greatest challenges in the
Google Science Fair
that is now in its fourth year. They’ve turned their passions into something that could change the world, from finding ways to
bring stable power
to remote villages in India, or for
farmers to cultivate crops
on multi-storeyed buildings to overcome land scarcity.
Last year, inspired by a trip to India where he saw ambulances stuck in traffic jams and unable to move, Australia’s Viney Kumar
won the 13-14-year-old category
that tells drivers to get out of the way when an emergency vehicle is approaching. That year also saw three 16-year-old Singaporeans, Yi Xi Kang, Kwok Ling Yi and Tricia Lim, get to the finals with their exploration of how
liver scarring could be helped and prevented
Viney Kumar with other 2013 winners Ann Makosinski, Elif Bilgin and Eric Chen
So if you’ve got a great idea like Rohit Fenn, who developed a system to
reduce toilet water consumption by half
, or Shrishti Asthana who found a way to
recycle fuel by using sunlight
in the hope of saving the world from a global energy crisis now is the time to let the world know.
All you need to participate in this year’s Google Science Fair is curiosity and an Internet connection. Project submissions are due May 12, and the winners will be announced at the finalist event at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, on September 22. For more details on how to sign up (and all the cool prizes that are waiting for you), visit
What do you love? What are you good at? What problem have you always dreamed of solving? Get started with your project today—it’s your turn to change the world.
Posted by Clare Conway, Google Science Fair team
Safer Internet Day: Helping families stay safe online
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Internet has brought a number of incredible things to the world. But it’s also important that it be a safe space for families to explore, learn and enjoy together. Today, we’re launching the
Google Safety Centre
which includes advice from our partners and other parents at Google on how to be confident and savvy digital citizens. We’re also partnering with various organisations to get the message out and help users learn how to stay safe online.
It all starts with an open and ongoing conversation with our kids about staying safe on the web. Every family member needs to be aware of the dos and don’ts when it comes to using technology, and the consequences of inappropriate use. It’s also important that kids feel they can ask for guidance when they encounter tricky situations
Just as it is important for parents and kids to talk about building positive online behavior, we think it’s essential to equip families with the right tools to help them safely navigate the web. This is why Google continually invests in new safety features and partners with parents, teachers and NGOS to make the Internet better for everyone.
For example, turning on
SafeSearch in Google Search
Safety Mode in YouTube
helps filter out mature content that you might not want showing up on the family computer. Our safety features are not just available on computers and laptops, but on Android devices too. Doing something as simple as filtering apps in the Google Play store will give you control over the type of content that your kids can download to your device.
We hope you’ll take time to sit down with your kids and start the conversation about basic Internet safety with them today.
Posted by Ishtar Vij, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Google Australia & New Zealand
New year, new computer
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Stay up to date all year with the HP Chromebook 11
Many of us use the new year as an opportunity for a fresh start. We decide to eat better, exercise more, or kick some bad habits. If you decided to get your computing life in order in 2014, this is one resolution you can actually keep — with a Chromebook.
Unlike traditional computers, Chromebooks are always running the latest, most secure software. Updates happen seamlessly and automatically, without nagging reminders, so you don’t have to click a finger.
Now Aussies have even more Chromebook choices with the launch of the
HP Chromebook 11
. Built in partnership with our friends at HP, the HP Chromebook 11 is the perfect computer for the way that people work and live today.
Light and portable, the HP Chromebook 11 fits easily into a bag or purse and with more than six hours of battery life it can keep up with you all day. Sleek and simple, the HP Chromebook 11 has a full-size keyboard and there are no sharp edges, so nothing digs into your wrists while you type. Powered by a micro-USB charger, you can also use this to juice up your Android phone or tablet.
Other features include:
A brilliant display.
The super bright display makes all your favourite photos, shows and videos look great. And with 176-degree viewing angles, you can see what’s on the screen even when looking at it almost completely sideways — perfect for watching videos with friends and family.
Light but sturdy.
The magnesium frame makes the Chromebook incredibly sturdy. You can hold it from a single corner without it bending or flexing.
Many computers have speakers on the bottom, which is great if you have ears in your lap. Instead, the speakers on the new Chromebook are under the keyboard, which means the sound is crisp, clear and pointed up towards your ears.
For those times when you’re not connected to the web, you can stay productive with apps like Gmail Offline and Google Docs. There are loads more offline apps available from the Chrome Web Store too.
Many Google apps come built-in and your get 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage free for two years.
The new HP Chromebook 11 is available for $399 from select
and Harvey Norman stores.
Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP, Product Management
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