My Google Map Blog

Tag: maps

Find wheelchair accessible places with Google Maps

by Sasha Blair-Goldensohn on May.22, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Editor’s note: Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and we’ll be sharing resources and tools for education, as well as accessibility features and updates for Android and Google Maps. 

Imagine making plans to go somewhere new, taking the journey to get there and arriving— only to be stuck outside, prevented from sitting with family or being unable to access the restroom. It’s a deeply frustrating experience I’ve had many times since becoming a wheelchair user in 2009. And it’s an experience all too familiar to the 130 million wheelchair users worldwide and the more than 30 million Americans who have difficulty using stairs.

So imagine instead being able to “know before you go” whether a destination is wheelchair accessible, just as effortlessly as looking up the address. In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’re announcing a new Google Maps feature that does just that.

People can now turn on an “Accessible Places” feature to have wheelchair accessibility information more prominently displayed in Google Maps. When Accessible Places is switched on, a wheelchair icon will indicate an accessible entrance and you’ll be able to see if a place has accessible seating, restrooms or parking. If it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, we’ll show that information on Maps as well.

Better maps for everyone, whether you walk or roll

Today, Google Maps has wheelchair accessibility information for more than 15 million places around the world. That number has more than doubled since 2017 thanks to the dedication of more than 120 million Local Guidesand others who’ve responded to our call to share accessibility information. In total, this community has contributed more than 500 million wheelchair accessibility updates to Google Maps. Store owners have also helped, using Google My Business to add accessibility information for their business profiles to help users needing stair-free access find them on Google Maps and Search.

With this feature “rollout”, it’s easier to find and contribute wheelchair accessibility information to Google Maps. That benefits everyone, from those of us using wheelchairs and parents pushing strollers to older adults with tired legs and people hauling heavy items. And in this time of COVID-19, it’s especially important to know before you go so that you won’t be stranded outside that pharmacy, grocery or restaurant.

How to contribute accessibility information to Google Maps

Anyone can contribute accessibility information to Google Maps

To get wheelchair accessibility information more prominently displayed in Google Maps, update your app to the latest version, go to Settings, select “Accessibility,” and turn on “Accessible Places.” The feature is available on both Android and iOS. 

We’re also rolling out an update that allows people using iOS devices to more easily contribute accessibility information, joining the millions of Android users who have been sharing this type of information on Maps. This guide has tips for rating accessibility, in case you’re not sure what counts as being “accessible.” We invite everyone to switch on Accessible Places and contribute accessibility information to help people in your community.

A Maps milestone, built on a movement

This launch is a milestone in our journey to build a better, more helpful map for everyone, which includes recent efforts to help people find accessible places, transit routes and walking directions. Our work wouldn’t be possible without the decades of advocacy from those who have fought for equal access for people with disabilities. Were it not for them, there would be far fewer accessible places for Google Maps to show.

The Accessible Places feature is starting to rollout for Google Maps users in Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with support for additional countries on the way.

How to turn on Accessible Places

Use the Accessible Places feature to see accessibility information more prominently displayed in Google Maps

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Take a virtual travel day with Street View

by Valentina Frassi on May.19, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

As a program manager for Street View, I’ve had the opportunity to work in more than 20 countries around the world, collecting imagery that transports people to new places and powers Google Maps. 

You can even find my blurred face from time to time in Street View. I’ve trekked a desert in Abu Dhabi (with a camel no less) and walked around the Great Pyramids of Giza (I’m the blurred face to the right). You can see my reflection throughout the 152nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, as I operate the Street View camera, and you can see me playing tourist in the canals of Venice

Like many people though, life and work look different for me now than it did last year. While travel is now out of the question for many, that doesn't mean exploring and learning about our world has to stop. 

Over the past 60 days we’ve seen Google Search interest spike more than 700 percent for virtual tours worldwide. People are looking to discover world famous museums, with the Louvre, the Smithsonian and the MoMA among the five most searched virtual tours globally. Alongside museums, people are also searching for a little bit of whimsy and beauty with searches for Disney virtual tours and Versailles virtual tours rounding out the list.

Those destinations only scratch the surface of what you can explore in Street View. There’s more than 10 million miles of Street View imagery you can freely explore by yourself or with professional guides who are taking their walking tours virtual. Today, I’m inviting people worldwide to take time for a virtual travel day on Street View. 

When I drop into a new place with Street View, it shakes up my routine, broadens my perspective, makes me feel more creative and brings a smile to my face. If you’re like me, sometimes you need an idea of where to go before you, well, go. So here are a few virtual travel itineraries with pictures of my favorite places to travel to in Street View:

Picture perfect landscapes

Streets with a view

Places of worship

Ancient sites

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Maps that bring us closer, even when we’re apart

by Chris Herwig on Apr.29, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

With much of the world physically apart right now, people are finding creative ways to use custom-built maps to maintain a shared sense of community, albeit virtually.

In 2007, we launched a tool called My Maps to help people create their own custom maps on top of Google Maps. With a simple drag-and-drop interface you can add placemarks, draw lines and shapes, and embed text, photos and videos. You can share your map via public URL, embed it on websites or publish your map for others to see.

Over the past four months, we’ve seen a surge in the number of people creating and viewing My Maps. From December 2019 to April 2020, we saw nearly a billion more My Maps creations, edits and views compared to the same time period last year, growing from 2 billion to nearly 3 billion. With My Maps, communities have been sharing helpful, local information in rapidly changing situations—from COVID-19 testing sites and food banks to where first responders can access childcare facilities.

Maps can help us and our communities stay safe

A map can be helpful in ways that a simple list of text is not: it helps us instantly see information in the context of where we are, with the locations of the resources we might need.

My Maps animation

With My Maps, anyone can be a cartographer. People can import their own data into a custom map, similar to how the San Francisco Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing mapped downtown hand-washing and hygiene stations to support hand hygiene and reduce the spread of COVID-19. With a spreadsheet or KML you can have your own custom map in no time.

Some maps take a bit more than hand-drawn points and polygons. For that, My Maps creators can import their own mapping data and mash it up with other sources. 

For example, the online newspaper Briarcliff Daily Voice created a My Map showing the spread of coronavirus cases in the New York City metropolitan area, using data from three state healthcare agencies and the city’s health department. has leveraged My Maps to inform Pennsylvanians about coronavirus cases by county. And The Chicago Sun-Times has a map showing where to get tested for coronavirus in the Chicago area.
Food bank

Anyone can be a force for good with simple, easy-to-use maps

In the past few months, we've seen how powerful this small set of relatively simple features can be. People are using My Maps to to be forces for good and coordinate relief efforts.

Map by map, people are connecting each other to resources for caring for ourselves and others, while staying healthy and informed. We’re seeing everyone from members of Congress to local nonprofits use Google My Maps to visualize information like school lunch pick-up spots to the spread of the virus in our communities.

Here are 10 helpful My Maps we’ve seen developed by communities around the world:

Keeping a shared sense of community, even when you're physically apart

As much as these maps are informative and helpful, they’re also uplifting. After a group of Brooklyn, NY moms asked neighbors to put pictures of rainbows in house windows so kids could track them down, one woman created a map showing the rainbows’ locations all over the city and suburbs. Now people worldwide are pitching in and adding their own rainbow locations to the map.

Mapping Rainbows with Google My Maps

If you’d like to experiment with My Maps, we’re putting together tutorials on skills like merging datasets and embedding maps online. Visit the Google Earth Medium channel in the coming weeks to learn more.

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Street View is helping this tour guide stay in business

by Katie Malczyk on Apr.24, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

On March 24, government restrictions due to COVID-19 went into effect across the United Kingdom. With nonessential businesses forced to close, public gatherings banned, and most people required to stay at home, these regulations instantly transformed daily life. They also presented a serious threat to Katie Wignall’s business: Katie makes her living as a tour guide, showing curious visitors the highlights of London.

But instead of trying to simply wait out the crisis, Katie looked to technology for a solution to creatively keep her business going. We chatted with her to find out how she’s successfully managed to take her walking tours virtual.

Beaver statues on London's Oxford Street

One of the beaver statues on Oxford Street

Describe your business, Look Up London.

I provide walking tours all over London for public and private groups. I’m a Blue Badge Tourist Guide, which is the top accreditation for tourist guides in the UK. We do two years of training, pass 11 exams, and we’re the only guides that can take you inside the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.

Look Up London started originally as a blog and social media channels, where I shared quirkier bits of London history. The name is all about spotting the little details in the architecture around you, to tell the story of why something looks the way it does. For example, on Oxford Street, which is famous for its shopping, there's a building decorated with sculptures of beavers. They're a clue to the fact it used to be a hat factory—slightly gruesome, but a detail that is so often missed by passersby!

How has your business been impacted by COVID-19 and the government restrictions?

I’ve had to shut down, basically. I can’t go out; we’re not able to meet up in groups to deliver the normal tours. All of the work I had booked going into the summer—the busiest time—has just been cancelled or postponed. Literally overnight there was no work at all. 

Katie Wignall giving a tour of London's Guildhall

Katie giving a tour of the Guildhall

What gave you the idea for virtual tours?

It was actually a suggestion from a follower on Instagram who asked, “Is there a way you could do virtual tours?” I started out by going out myself and having my husband film me on London streets, but then as the situation escalated, we weren’t allowed outside.

So then I thought I’d experiment with Google Street View. If I couldn’t go outside, I could offer people the next best thing, through a screen. I was already using Street View a lot for my work—it’s really good for my research. I love the feature where you can go back in time. It’s not possible for every location, but for a lot of central London, you can select a place in Google Maps for desktop, drag the Street View pegman into the picture and click on the clock in the top left corner to explore imagery from the past. You can see where buildings have been demolished and what used to be standing where.

So now, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2 PM London time, I use Street View to give a virtual tour on Instagram Live. And for anyone who can’t make that time, I post the recordings on my website. They’re all free, and if people enjoy them, they can make a donation.

What’s been the response?

People have been so lovely. From the comments, I think it’s been very helpful for people in lockdown, who maybe are older and can’t get out of the house as often, or people who’ve had to leave London and are feeling homesick. Lots have messaged me to say it’s made them feel like they’ve been outside. They’ve really learned something new and taken their minds off the situation for twenty minutes or so.

Any advantages to using Street View compared to being there in person?

The great thing about Street View is that you can hop about—you can jump a mile down the road and people don’t have to get on a bus or actually walk, so you can cover a lot of ground.

And then there’s that feature to go back in time and see things how they appeared years ago, back to 2008. On a normal tour, you can show pictures and give people an idea, but if people are on Street View and feel like they’re standing in a space and seeing the changes right there, it’s a different experience.

One example, on my Aldgate tour, is a garden space that has been relandscaped. The garden looks beautiful now, but three years ago you could see the cobbles of Victorian London. And those cobbles happen to have been the site of the murder of Catherine Eddowes, who was a victim of Jack the Ripper. That was an evocative thing to be able to show.

Any advice for other small business owners who are trying to figure out how to adapt right now?

I think you have to do the thing that you enjoy doing. I don’t think I’d be able to do these three times a week if I didn’t enjoy them. If you have something that you want to share, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do that. Technology has made everything so accessible, and if you care about something, chances are others care about that as well.

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Explore new sites, relive old hikes for National Park Week

by Molly on Apr.22, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Every year, I try to visit a new National Park, or at least start planning my trip to one. That’s a little more difficult right now, but given that it’s National Park Week, I decided to try and keep with my tradition by using Google tools to satisfy my wanderlust.

Explore new places and parks

This year, I’m heading to, a Google Arts & Culture project developed in collaboration with National Park Service that takes you on guided tours narrated by park rangers from the Kenai Fjords, Hawai'i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon and Dry Tortugas. I can also visit historical sites that I’ve never been to before, like Eleanor Roosevelt’s woodsy home in Hyde Park, New York or Thomas Edison’s camping sites (which, to me, look a little more like glamping). There are more than 100 Street View historical tours to choose from, and collections that let you discover Native American craft work or fossils from archeological digs. 

Afterward, I’ll take an in-depth tour of some of the National Parks of the United States and wander through a few of the most-loved ones recommended by our community of Local Guides in two popular Google Earth Voyager stories. I plan on rounding out the week with a new YouTube series from the Google Earth team that travels to National Parks across the country, literally “zooming” you into places like Elephant Hill in Canyonlands National Park and Kanarraville Falls in Zion National Park. There’s even a new Global National Parks quiz to test your geo-knowledge.

Video showing a tour of Utah's National Parks.

All of these things help an outdoor enthusiast who’s stuck inside (for the time being) to find unknown landscapes or get inspiration for their next trip. Perhaps for the most well-traveled out there, they’re a way to remember a favorite adventure. 

Or revisit old favorites

Before I venture into the unknown, I decided to take a trip down memory lane (or rather, memory trail), and re-experience some of my favorite hikes in National Parks with the help of Google Street View, and anyone can join me—starting with Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon. Saving the uphill journey for the second half of a hike is something my legs will never forget, but it remains one of my favorite National Parks memories. And thanks to Street View, I can recreate the journey … with fewer water breaks, probably.

I can also make my way up Garfield Peak in Crater Lake National Park (which I hiked during a camping trip where I first met my husband) and make as many nostalgic pit stops along the way as I want.

And last summer, my family and I all vacationed in Acadia National Park. Now that we can’t physically see one another, I’m even more grateful we went. One of my favorite memories was hiking along the park’s easternmost edge, the Great Head Trail, with my husband and meeting my family on Sand Beach, a journey I’m happily retaking via Street View … and maybe on our weekly family video call, we’ll all “hike” it together.

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Connecting people to virtual care options

by Julie on Apr.10, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, many healthcare providers are reducing or stopping in-person visits for a variety of patient needs, from the treatment of chronic conditions to mental health services to evaluating cough and cold symptoms. Yet, people need a way to continue getting medical care from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen interest in virtual care and telehealth rise dramatically. Health consultations over the phone or by video conference not only help alleviate strain on doctors’ offices and emergency rooms but are also recommended as an important way to protect patients and staff against COVID-19. 

To help individuals and health care providers connect, we’re focused on providing individuals with access to high-quality and authoritative information and supporting them throughout their health journey. Over the coming week, we’re beginning to roll out two new features in Search and Maps that make it easier for people to connect to virtual healthcare options, whether it’s to a doctor’s office down the street, the hospital across town, or a national telehealth platform.

Local healthcare providers, now virtual

Healthcare providers like hospitals, doctors, and mental health professionals can now enter a virtual care offering in their Business Profile, so that people searching for their local provider, for instance, might see a “get online care” link on Search and Maps. Clicking this link will take people to that provider’s virtual care website where they can find more information, and in many cases, schedule a virtual healthcare visit with a provider. 

The pandemic has affected many healthcare providers’ operating hours and walk-in visit policies. To help communicate changes that might affect someone’s visit, we’re automatically surfacing a link directly to health providers’ COVID-19 information page on Search and Maps, and we've assembled best practices on how healthcare providers can update their websites and provide COVID-19 information on Google My Business.

New health information about Hillview Hospital

With health providers limiting in-person visits due to COVID-19, we’re making it easier for people to discover virtual care options.

Find virtual healthcare, anywhere, anytime

Beginning as a pilot in the U.S., we’ll also begin showing widely-available virtual care platforms directly on Search so people can more easily access virtual visits. For example, when people search for “immediate care”, we’ll be able to also present available virtual care options and related information such as the out-of-pocket price charged for a visit (for those without insurance) and an easy way for people to directly connect with the virtual care platform. The visit between the patient and provider will take place on the healthcare provider’s platform of choice.

On Search, you can see information about virtual healthcare platforms

People will be able to see widely-available virtual healthcare platforms directly on Search as well as the out-of-pocket cost for a visit.

For healthcare providers, helping you keep up with demand

In addition to helping healthcare providers with information about how to keep their online business information up-to-date, Google Cloud is supporting providers with technology infrastructure and solutions to assist with care delivery and operations. This includes helping doctors support patients remotely with HIPAA-compliant G Suite products (including using Google Meet for telehealth or virtual visits),deploying virtual agents to field questions related to COVID-19, and helping with capacity-planning and demand forecasting of key medical supplies to better manage their supply chains.

The global COVID-19 pandemic and the response to prevent its spread has changed the way individuals access and connect to health care. Across our products, we’ll continue to ensure that healthcare providers have the tools to connect with patients, and that anyone can access the information and care they need to stay healthy.

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Helping public health officials combat COVID-19

by Jen Fitzpatrick on Apr.03, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

As global communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasing emphasis on public health strategies, like social distancing measures, to slow the rate of transmission. In Google Maps, we use aggregated, anonymized data showing how busy certain types of places are—helping identify when a local business tends to be the most crowded. We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19. 

Starting today we’re publishing an early release of our COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports to provide insights into what has changed in response to work from home, shelter in place, and other policies aimed at flattening the curve of this pandemic. These reports have been developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and policies

The reports use aggregated, anonymized data to chart movement trends over time by geography, across different high-level categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. We’ll show trends over several weeks, with the most recent information representing 48-to-72 hours prior. While we display a percentage point increase or decrease in visits, we do not share the absolute number of visits. To protect people’s privacy, no personally identifiable information, like an individual’s location, contacts or movement, is made available at any point. 

We will release these reports globally, initially covering 131 countries and regions. Given the urgent need for this information, where possible we will also provide insights at the regional level. In the coming weeks, we will work to add additional countries and regions to ensure these reports remain helpful to public health officials across the globe looking to protect people from the spread of COVID-19.


Navigate and download a report for your region of interest

In addition to other resources public health officials might have, we hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, this information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings. Similarly, persistent visits to transportation hubs might indicate the need to add additional buses or trains in order to allow people who need to travel room to spread out for social distancing. Ultimately, understanding not only whether people are traveling, but also trends in destinations, can help officials design guidance to protect public health and essential needs of communities.


A Community Mobility Report example for State of Louisiana, United States

In addition to the Community Mobility Reports, we are collaborating with select epidemiologists working on COVID-19 with updates to an existing aggregate, anonymized dataset that can be used to better understand and forecast the pandemic. Data of this type has helped researchers look into predicting epidemics, plan urban and transit infrastructure, and understand people’s mobility and responses to conflict and natural disasters.

Privacy protections

The Community Mobility Reports are powered by the same world-class anonymization technology that we use in our products every day. For these reports, we use differential privacy, which adds artificial noise to our datasets enabling high quality results without identifying any individual person. 

The insights are created with aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users who have turned on the Location History setting, which is off by default. Users who have Location History turned on can choose to turn the setting off at any time from their Google Account, and can always delete Location History data directly from their Timeline

These are unprecedented times and we will continue to evaluate these reports as we get feedback from public health officials, civil society groups, local governments and the community at large. We hope these insights will add to other public health information that will help people and communities stay healthy and safe.

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Porsche Taylor puts women in the driver’s seat

by Molly on Mar.25, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Porsche Taylor’s first time riding a motorcycle alone could have gone better. “That first ride, I had absolutely nothing on right: My helmet was too big, I didn’t own a jacket. I might have had on some baseball gloves; everything was just totally upside-down wrong,” she says. “But I wasn’t afraid, it was exhilarating. It was trying something new, being in control. It was that initial feeling of the freedom of the wind.”

Porsche was one of the participants in the Women Riders World Relay, a relay ride that spanned the globe, beginning in February 2019 in Scotland and ending February 2020 in London. WRWR organizers used Google products like Maps, Sheets and Translate to make sure riders not only had constant, up-to-date access to their routes, but also were able to explore and connect with one another along the way. 

Video showing women riding motorcycles across the world.

“The whole team did phenomenally with the amount of time they had to put together the route and figure out the baton passes,” says Porsche. Google Maps was particularly useful for creating Porsche’s route. She and her fellow riders rode from Sept. 25 to Oct. 14, starting in Maine and heading west across the Canadian border, then down through the Southwest to the Mexican border in Texas. They crossed the country, occasionally riding through snowstorms and dropping temperatures. “When you consider the seasons we were riding through, it was a definite challenge for organizers to find routes that weren’t closed down.” 

While Google Maps could help the riders along their journey, it couldn’t do anything about inclement weather. “I quit about four times,” laughs Porsche. “Riding in the cold is not my favorite thing to do. But it was a positive experience all the way around; I don’t know that I would ride in the freezing cold again, but I would do a ride with those women again for sure. I always say the bonds are built on the ground: You’re going to love the folks you ride with to death or you won’t be so cool, and I’m happy to say I love those ladies to death.”

Porsche is vocal about the need for more representation for women in the motor sports community, and she says that things like social media visibility and technical tools like Google Hangouts have helped women who may have felt alone in their shared passion find each other. This idea is in part what inspired her to found Black Girls Ride, a magazine and community originally launched as a place for women of color who ride, which has since grown to include all women. What inspired her to launch Black Girls Ride was the lack of representation she saw when she first started riding—especially in long-distance riding. Traditionally, women filled support roles during these cross-country expeditions, taking a literal backseat to men. In fact, Porsche’s first experience on a bike was sitting behind a man, on the back of her cousin’s bike. “I didn’t so much like the feeling of being a passenger...but I loved the feeling of riding.” 

Thanks to women like Porsche and the WRWR riders, the world of motor sports is changing. “Women have become fearless and bold enough to take long distance biking trips on their own. We’re witnessing the explosion of the all-female long distance ride, where women take it upon themselves to create rides that cater to them instead of being a subset of an all-male ride. It’s where we get to take our power back.” 

Talking about these rides and seeing women taking them via social media and internet communities are crucial, says Porsche, who also mentions using Google Hangouts to connect with riders across the country. “You’re able to see the growth of female riders; women taking these long distance trips and riding solo have always been there—there are women riding today who have been doing this since the 60s—but social media is now shining a light on them.” 

That increased visibility is part of Porsche's work with Black Girls Ride. “I knew from riding in LA that there were more of us than the community would admit to. There was no representation in mainstream media, even for women who were riding professionally, there was very little to nothing,” Porsche says. Now "women all over the world are connecting to the Black Girls Ride brand. We have readers in London, Nigeria, France, just about every country you can name. I’m motivated by these women.” Black Girls Ride has become more than a publication, hosting trainings, workshops and events. And while both men and women are included, it’s Porsche’s focus to make sure women riders are invited to the table and that they are given the same representation, advertising and sponsorship opportunities. 

Most of all, she just wants women to feel welcome in this world. “It’s always been my goal to create safe spaces for women to ask questions and get the help they need without fear of ridicule,” she says. “And I’m glad I can be a part of creating that.” 

Learn more about the women behind WRWR and how they planned their relay at

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Connecting people with COVID-19 information and resources

by Emily Moxley on Mar.21, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Since the beginning of the year, search interest in COVID-19 has continued to climb around the world. Right now the disease is the largest topic people are looking for globally, surpassing even some of the most common and consistent queries we see in Search.

Search Interest COVID

As this public health crisis has evolved into a pandemic, information needs are continuing to change, differing from region to region. When COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) in late January, we launched an SOS Alert with resources and safety information from the WHO, along with the latest news. The alert has launched in 25 languages across dozens of countries, and people in more than 50 countries can access localized public health guidance from health authorities. 

Expanding our COVID-19 Search experience
Now, as we continue to see people’s information needs expanding, we’re introducing a more comprehensive experience for COVID-19 in Search, providing easy access to authoritative information from health authorities alongside new data and visualizations. This new format organizes the search results page to help people easily navigate information and resources, and it will also make it possible to add more information over time as it becomes available.


In addition to links to helpful resources from national and local health authorities, people will also find a carousel of Twitter accounts from local civic organizations and health authorities to help connect them with the latest local guidance as it’s shared. We’ve also introduced a feature to surface some of the most common questions about the pandemic, with relevant snippets sourced from the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

To help people track the latest information about the spread of the disease, we’re adding modules with statistics and a map showing COVID-19 prevalence in countries around the world. This new COVID-19 experience on Search will roll out in the coming days in English in the U.S., and we plan to add more information and expand to other languages and countries soon.

A website dedicated to help and resources
In addition to launching new features on Google Search that provide easy access to more authoritative information, we’ve worked with relevant agencies and authorities to roll out a website—available at—focused on education, prevention and local resources. People can find state-based information, safety and prevention tips, search trends related to COVID-19, and further resources for individuals, educators and businesses. Launching today in the U.S., the site will be available in more languages and countries in the coming days and we’ll update the website as more resources become available. Along with our other products and initiatives, we hope these resources will help people find answers to the questions they’re asking and get the help they need.

Guidance around local health services
We’re also looking for more ways we can help people follow authoritative public health guidance and locate appropriate health services through our products. Right now in the U.S., people seeking out urgent care, hospitals and other medical services in Search or Maps will see an alert reminding them of the CDC’s recommendation that symptomatic individuals call ahead in order to avoid overwhelming health systems and increasing the risk of exposure.

Urgent Care COVID

As coronavirus becomes a challenge in more communities and as authorities around the world develop new guidance and tools to address the pandemic, we’ll continue to find more opportunities to connect people with key information to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.

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How a Local Guide helps women achieve financial freedom

by Priyanka Upadhyay on Mar.09, 2020, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Three years ago, my world changed completely. Three different surgeries after a road accident left me bedridden and confined to one room for a year and a half. I wondered if I would ever fully recover. I wondered if my career would suffer. I wondered if I would be able to do what I loved—traveling, eating out, and meeting new people. I wondered if I would be happy again. 

Thankfully, an optimistic friend planted an idea in my head: “Why don't you leave Google Maps reviews for places you have already visited?” I had no idea this was a possibility. I began to write Google Maps reviews without ever leaving my room in my hometown of Vapi, India—starting with a local restaurant I adore called Sam's Alive Again. I sensed my mood changing daily; I was helping people make better decisions about places to go and things to do. 

Quickly, my numbers added up; I contributed more than 700 reviews and 2,000 photos that have been seen more than 3 million times. In 2018, I was selected to attend Google’s annual meet-up of Local Guides, where top Google Maps contributors from around the world come together in San Francisco. I made new friends and learned about the amazing things they do for their communities, like adding accessibility information on Google Maps to help people with disabilities and arranging volunteer events. I felt helpful and inspired for the first time in a long time.

Being financially independent frees you from the opinions of others. Priyanka Upadhyay

My growing involvement with Local Guides taught me that photos are powerful. Reviews can transform a business. And technology gives a voice to women. I’ve seen this firsthand. My cousin runs a cake shop called Baker's Love out of her home in Vapi. Now that I’ve added her to Google Maps, she receives orders from far away places online. (She makes the most amazing chocolate cake, by the way.) 

And I loved teaching Urmila, the owner of Dimple Beauty Parlor, how to claim her business on Google Maps, maintain her photos, and respond to reviews. Urmila told me that she saw a jump in her weekly customers, and her business is doing fine. As Urmila says, “It’s essential to be able to stand on your own feet.”

There are so many social and economic hurdles to start a business—and I believe these multiply when you’re a woman. Financial independence frees you from the opinions of others, and I get excited when a woman is motivated to do her own thing. Through Local Guides Connect, our online forum where Local Guides swap tips and network from around the world, I run a group called “Empowered Women of Vapi, India.” Together, we identify stories about women in Vapi; in 2020, we’re organizing 28 meet-ups in all 28 states of India (yes, all!). At each meet-up we will visit the state capital, gather women business owners, improve their Google Maps place pages, and forge connections between Local Guides.

This is my way of encouraging women to keep going—no matter the obstacle. Women are strong, inspiring, and resilient. Today, I’m fully recovered, and looking back, I’m so grateful I didn’t allow my surgeries to stop me.

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