News > Google
Category: Google | Jun 4, 2013
What do a Swedish wind farm developer, a German insurance company and Google’s Finnish data center have in common? As of today, a lot. We’ve just inked agreements with O2 and Allianz to supply our Finnish data center with renewable energy for the next 10 years—our fourth long-term agreement to power our data centers with renewable energy worldwide, and our first in Europe.
Here’s how it works: O2, the wind farm developer, has obtained planning approval to build a new 72MW wind farm at Maevaara, in Övertorneå and Pajala municipality in northern Sweden, using highly efficient 3MW wind turbines. We’ve committed to buying the entire output of that wind farm for 10 years so that we can power our Finnish data center with renewable energy. That agreement has helped O2 to secure 100% financing for the construction of the wind farm from the investment arm of German insurance company Allianz, which will assume ownership when the wind farm becomes operational in early 2015.
This arrangement is possible thanks to Scandinavia’s integrated electricity market and grid system, Nord Pool. It enables us to buy the wind farm’s output in Sweden with Guarantee of Origin certification and consume an equivalent amount of power at our data center in Finland. We then “retire” the Guarantee of Origin certificates to show that we’ve actually used the energy.
As a carbon neutral company, our goal is to use as much renewable energy as possible—and by doing so, stimulate further production. The Maevaara wind farm not only allows us to make our already highly energy-efficient Finnish data center even more sustainable, it also meets our goal of adding new renewable energy generation capacity to the grid.
Of course, using renewable energy is good for the environment, but it also makes long term financial sense. That’s why, in addition to protecting ourselves against future increases in power prices through long-term purchasing for our operations, we also invest in new renewable energy projects that will deliver a return for our money. In recent years we’ve committed more than $1 billion to such projects in the U.S., Germany and, just last week, South Africa. We’ll continue to look for similar opportunities around the globe.
Posted by Francois Sterin, Senior Manager, Global Infrastructure Team
Category: Google | Jun 3, 2013
In March, we launched the U.K. Global Impact Challenge, asking British nonprofits to tell us how they’d use technology to change the world. Today, after evaluating hundreds of creative and visionary projects and narrowing the stack down to just 10 finalists, we’re announcing four inspiring Global Impact Awardees.
Three Awardees were selected by a panel of judges including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Sir Richard Branson and Jilly Forster. Ultimately, the three recipients were selected for their unique application of technology to solve a big challenge and their ambitious but attainable vision:
- SolarAid will enable widespread access to low-cost, safe solar lighting in off-grid African communities currently reliant on kerosene lighting.
- Integrity Action will improve public infrastructure and services in war-torn countries through an online and mobile platform for citizens to report on development projects.
- CDI Apps For Good will revolutionize computing education by engaging youth in the hands-on creation of apps.
We also asked the public to help us choose one additional fan favorite to receive a £500,000 Global Impact Award. Hundreds of thousands of votes were cast between May 17-31. It was neck and neck, but the Zoological Society of London won for its plan to equip next generation camera traps with automated sensors, improving the protection of threatened wildlife.
SolarAid, CDI Apps for Good, Integrity Action and Zoological Society of London
Each of the four nonprofits will receive a £500,000 Global Impact Award and support from Google volunteers to make their project a reality. We believe technology can change the world, and entrepreneurial nonprofits are a big part of that equation. So to help the six additional finalists further develop and kick-start their projects, we’ve provided each with £100,000 in seed funding.
We look forward to the impact these incredible organizations will have on the ground, and we applaud all of the nonprofits in the U.K. and around the globe that are using technology to make the world better, faster. Who knows where we’ll take the Challenge next?
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director, Google Giving
Category: Google | May 30, 2013
Knowing how to stay safe and secure online is important, which is why we created our Good to Know site with advice and tips for safe and savvy Internet use. Starting today, we’ll also be posting regularly with privacy and security tips. We hope this information helps you understand the choices and control that you have over your online information. -Ed.
It could be your Gmail, your photos or your documents—whatever you have in your Google Account, we work hard to make sure it’s protected from would-be identity thieves, other bad guys, or any illegitimate attempts to access your information.
But you can also help keep your information safe. Think of how upset you would be if someone else got access to your Google Account without your permission, and then take five minutes to follow the steps below and help make it more secure. Let’s start with the key to unlocking your account—your password:
1. Use a different password for each important service
Make sure you have a different password for every important online account you have. Bad guys will steal your username and password from one site, and then use them to try to log into lots of other sites where you might have an account. Even large, reputable sites sometimes have their password databases stolen. If you use the same password across many different sites, there’s a greater chance it might end up on a list of stolen passwords. And the more accounts you have that use that password, the more data you might lose if that password is stolen.
Giving an account its own, strong password helps protect you and your information in that account. Start today by making sure your Google Account has a unique password.
2. Make your password hard to guess
“password.” “123456.” “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” These examples are terrible passwords because everyone knows them—including potential attackers. Making your passwords longer or more complicated makes them harder to guess for both bad guys and people who know you. We know it’s hard: the average password is shorter than 8 characters, and many just contain letters. In a database of 32 million real passwords that were made public in 2009, analysis showed (PDF) only 54 percent included numbers, and only 3.7 percent had special characters like & or $.
One way to build a strong password is to think of a phrase or sentence that other people wouldn’t know and then use that to build your password. For example, for your email you could think of a personal message like “I want to get better at responding to emails quickly and concisely” and then build your password from numbers, symbols, and the first letters of each word—“iw2gb@r2eq&c”. Don’t use popular phrases or lyrics to build your password—research suggests that people gravitate to the same phrases, and you want your password to be something only you know.
Google doesn’t restrict password length, so go wild!
3. Keep your password somewhere safe
Research shows (PDF) that worrying about remembering too many passwords is the chief reason people reuse certain passwords across multiple services. But don’t worry—if you’ve created so many passwords that it’s hard to remember them, it’s OK to make a list and write them down. Just make sure you keep your list in a safe place, where you won’t lose it and others won’t be able to find it. If you’d prefer to manage your passwords digitally, a trusted password manager might be a good option. Chrome and many web browsers have free password managers built into them, and there are many independent options as well—take a few minutes to read through reviews and see what would be best for your needs.
4. Set a recovery option
Have you ever forgotten your password? Has one of your friends ever been locked out of their account? Setting a recovery option, like an alternate email address or a telephone number, helps give the service provider another way to contact you if you are ever locked out of your account. Having an up-to-date recovery phone or email address is the best thing you can do to make sure you can get back into your account fast if there is ever a problem.
If you haven’t set a recovery option for your Google Account, add one now. If you have, just take a second to make sure it’s up to date.
We have more tips on how to pick a good password on our Help Center, and in the video below:
Your online safety and privacy is important to you, and it’s important to us, too. We’ve made a huge amount of progress to help protect your Google Account from people who want to break into it, but for the time being, creating a unique, strong password is still an important way to protect your online accounts. Please take five minutes today to reset your important passwords using the tips above, and stay tuned for more security tips throughout the summer.
Posted by Diana Smetters, Software Engineer
Category: Google | May 30, 2013
As we search for investments that can help speed up the adoption of renewable energy, we’ve been looking beyond the U.S. and Europe to parts of the world where our investments can have an even greater impact. We’ve just closed our first investment in Africa: $12 million USD (103 million Rand) investment in the Jasper Power Project, a 96 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Upon completion, Jasper will be one of the largest solar installations on the continent, capable of generating enough electricity to power 30,000 South African homes. The project, developed and funded by SolarReserve, Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group, is also backed by Rand Merchant Bank, the Public Investment Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa and the PEACE Humansrus Trust.
View Jasper Power Project in a larger map
The Jasper Power Project is located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, near Postmasburg
When we consider investing in a renewable energy project
, we focus on two key factors. First, we only pursue investments that we believe make financial sense. South Africa’s strong resources and supportive policies for renewable energy make it an attractive place to invest—which is why it had the highest growth in clean energy investment in the world last year. Second, we look for projects that have transformative potential—that is, projects that will bolster the growth of the renewable energy industry and move the world closer to a clean energy future. The Jasper Power Project is one of those transformative opportunities. To explain why, perhaps some background would be helpful.
Back in 2008, South Africa experienced a severe energy shortage, which resulted in blackouts throughout the country and slowed down economic growth. Since then the South African government has been actively supporting the growth of new sources of electricity to power the nation. While today South Africa is primarily dependent on fossil fuels, there’s lots of potential for renewable energy—it’s a country blessed with abundant wind and solar resources—and the government has set an ambitious goal of generating 18 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030 (as a comparison, the entire South African grid is currently 44 GW
To meet this goal, the South African government has established the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program
(REIPPPP). Through the program, renewable energy projects compete on the basis of cost and contribution to the local economy to be awarded a contract with Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned energy utility. Jasper and the other projects being developed through the REIPPPP have the potential to transform the South African energy grid. And given South Africa’s position as an economic powerhouse in Africa, a greener grid in South Africa can set an example for the whole continent.
Once constructed, the project will use solar panels like these.
Just as compelling are the economic and social benefits that the project will bring to the local community. Jasper will create approximately 300 construction and 50 permanent jobs in a region experiencing high rates of unemployment, as well as providing rural development and education programs and setting aside a portion of total project revenues—amounting to approximately $26 million over the life of the project—for enterprise and socio-economic development. We appreciate how forward-thinking the South African government has been in designing the REIPPPP to encourage these kinds of local economic benefits.
Google has committed more than $1 billion to renewable energy investments and we continue to search for new opportunities. Our search has brought us from the U.S. to Europe and now to Africa. We’re excited to see where else it might lead.
Posted by Rick Needham, Director, Energy & Sustainability
Category: Google | May 29, 2013
We get a lot of different types of email: messages from friends, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more. All of these emails can compete for our attention and make it harder to focus on the things we need to get done. Sometimes it feels like our inboxes are controlling us, rather than the other way around.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, Gmail is getting a brand new inbox on desktop and mobile that puts you back in control using simple, easy organization.
On the desktop, the new inbox groups your mail into categories which appear as different tabs. You simply choose which categories you want and voilà! Your inbox is organized in a way that lets you see what’s new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when.
You can easily customize the new inbox—select the tabs you want from all five to none, drag-and-drop to move messages between tabs, set certain senders to always appear in a particular tab and star messages so that they also appear in the Primary tab.
In the Gmail for Android 4.0+ and Gmail for iPhone and iPad apps, you’ll see your Primary mail when you open the app and you can easily navigate to the other tabs.
If the new inbox isn’t quite your style, you can simply switch off all optional tabs to go back to classic view, or switch to any of your other favorite inbox types.
The new inbox is rolling out gradually. The desktop, Android and iOS versions will become available within the next few weeks. If you’d like to try out the new inbox on Desktop sooner, keep an eye on the gear menu and select Configure inbox when it appears in the Settings options.
Posted by Itamar Gilad, Product Manager
Category: Google | May 23, 2013
The Galapagos Islands are some of the most biologically unique ecosystems in the world. Explorers and scientists alike have long studied and marveled at these islands—made famous by Charles Darwin. The Ecuadorean Government, local conservation groups and scientists are working to protect the Galapagos from threats posed by invasive species, climate change and other human impacts.
It’s critical that we share images with the world of this place in order to continue to study and preserve the islands’ unique biodiversity. Today we’re honored to announce, in partnership with Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Parks Directorate (GNPD), that we’ve collected panoramic imagery of the islands with the Street View Trekker. These stunning images will be available on Google Maps later this year so people around the world can experience this remote archipelago.
Daniel Orellana of Charles Darwin Foundation crossing a field of ferns to reach Minas de Azufre (naturally-occurring sulfur mines) on the top of Sierra Negra, an active volcano on Isabela Island. The Google Maps team traveled for more than three hours, hiking and on horseback, to reach this remote location.
Images, like the one you see above, are also an important visual record that the CDF and GNPD will use to study and protect the islands by showing the world how these delicate environments have changed over time.
Daniel Orellana of the Charles Darwin Foundation climbs out of a lava tunnel where he was collecting imagery. The dramatic lava landscapes found on Isabela island tell the story of the formation of the Galapagos Islands.
Our 10-day adventure in the Galapagos was full of hiking, boating and diving around the islands (in hot and humid conditions) to capture 360-degree images of the unique wildlife and geological features of the islands with the Trekker. We captured imagery from 10 locations that were hand-selected by CDF and GNPD. We walked past giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, navigated through steep trails and lava fields, and picked our way down the crater of an active volcano called Sierra Negra.
A Galapagos giant tortoise crawls along the path near Googler Karin Tuxen-Bettman while she collects imagery with the Street View Trekker in Galapaguera, a tortoise breeding center, which is managed by the Galapagos National Park Service.
Life underwater in the Galapagos is just as diverse as life on land. We knew our map of the islands wouldn’t be comprehensive without exploring the ocean that surrounds them. So for the second time we teamed up with the folks at the Catlin Seaview Survey to collect underwater panoramic imagery of areas being studied by CDF and GNPD. This imagery will be used by Catlin Seaview Survey to create a visual and scientific baseline record of the marine environment surrounding the islands, allowing for any future changes to be measured and evaluated by scientists around the world.
Christophe Bailhache navigates the SVII camera through a large group of Sea Lions at Champion Island in Galapagos. Image courtesy of the Catlin Seaview Survey.
We truly believe that in order to protect these Galapagos Islands, we must understand them. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” We hope this Street View imagery not only advances the important scientific research, but also inspires you to learn more about this special place. Stay tuned for updates on this collection—the first time we’ve captured imagery from both land and sea! We can’t wait to share this amazing imagery with you later this year.
Posted by Raleigh Seamster, Project Lead, Google Maps
Category: Google | May 22, 2013
After 130,000 submissions and millions of votes cast, Sabrina Brady of Sparta, Wisc. has been named the 2013 U.S. Doodle 4 Google National Winner. Her doodle, “Coming Home,” will be featured on the Google homepage in the U.S. tomorrow, May 23.
Students across all 50 states amazed us with their creative interpretations of this year’s theme, “My Best Day Ever…” From scuba diving to dinosaurs to exploring outer space, we were wowed by the ways young artists brought their best days to life in their doodles.
Sabrina’s doodle stood out in the crowd; it tells the story of her reunion with her father as he returned from an 18 month deployment in Iraq. Her creative use of the Google letters to illustrate this heartfelt moment clearly resonated with voters across the country and all of us at Google.
In addition to seeing her artwork on the Google homepage, Sabrina—who is in 12th grade at Sparta High School—will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook computer and a $50,000 technology grant for her school. She will attend Minneapolis College of Art and Design this coming fall, where she will continue her artistic pursuits. Congratulations Sabrina!
In addition to the National Winner, voters across the country helped us determine the four National Finalists, who will each receive a $5,000 college scholarship:
- Grades K-3: Reagan Gonsalves (Grade 1, Santan Elementary School, Chandler, Ariz.) for her doodle “My best day ever is learning about nature.” Reagan says, “My best day ever is to be around the pretty animals and plants in nature, because I love to know about what is around me. I love to watch hummingbirds drink nectar out of flowers. I love to read books on nature and how plants and animals grow.”
- Grades 4-5: Audrey Zhang (Grade 4, Michael F. Stokes Elementary School, Levittown, N.Y.) for her doodle “…When I discover paradise!” Zhang says, “My best day ever will be when I discover paradise. In paradise, I could play with dragons, romp with leopards, and chat with fairies…It would be the best day ever when I could finally live in a mystical, dreamy realm.”
- Grades 6-7: Maria Iannone (Grade 7, Chestnut Ridge Middle School, Sewell, N.J.) for her doodle “The best day ever.” Maria says, “Where I live, it’s difficult to view the night sky very well. Having an interest in astronomy, a day where I can observe the things I study on my own time would satisfy me.”
- Grades 8-9: Joseph Han (Grade 8, Falmouth Middle School, Falmouth, Maine) for his doodle “Late-afternoon bliss.” Joey says, “For me, ‘the best day ever’ doesn’t consist of ambitious dreams, but rather the enjoyment of a day spent in carefree euphoria. Being in the woods is something that evokes such happiness in me. The lighthearted joy of rafting, fishing or catching fireflies is what I’ve attempted to capture.”
After the awards ceremony, all 50 of our State Winners will unveil a special exhibition of their artwork at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where their doodles will be displayed for the public to view from May 22 – July 14.
Thanks to all who voted and helped us select the 2013 Doodle 4 Google winners. Even more importantly, thank you to all of the students who submitted their artwork and the parents and teachers who continue to inspire and support their young artists. Until next year… happy doodling!
Posted by Ryan Germick, Doodle Team Lead
Category: Google | May 22, 2013
Ever wonder what the world is searching for? With Google Trends, you can see what’s hot right now, and also explore the history and geography of a topic as it evolves. Today you’ll find new charts of the most-searched people, places and things in more than 40 categories, from movies to sports teams to tourist attractions. You’ll also find a new colorful visualization of real-time Hot Searches.
Top Charts—a new monthly “spirit of the times”
Top Charts are lists of real-world people, places and things ranked by search interest. They show information similar to our Year-End Zeitgeist, but updated monthly and going back to 2004. To check them out, go to Google Trends and click “Top Charts” on the left-hand side. For example, you can see the 10 most-searched cities, movies and scientists in April:
Top Charts includes more than 40 top 10 lists and more than 140 time periods. Hover on a chart for links to embed the chart in your own page or share on social media.
Top Charts is built on the Knowledge Graph, so the data shows interest in real-world things, not just keywords. When you look at a chart of sports teams and you see the Golden State Warriors, those rankings are based on many different related searches, like [gs warriors], [golden state bball] and [warriors basketball]. That way you see which topics are most popular on Google Search, however people search for them. Top Charts provide our most accurate search volume rankings, but no algorithm is perfect, so on rare occasion you may find anomalies in the data. You can learn more about Top Charts in our Help Center.
Hot Searches, now in hot colors
In addition to Top Charts, now there’s a vibrant new way to visualize trending searches as they happen. On the Trends homepage in the left-hand panel, you’ll find a new link to “Visualize Hot Searches in full-screen.” You’ll see the latest trending topics appear in a colorful display:
You can customize the layout by clicking the icon in the upper-left corner and expanding it to see as many as 25 searches at a time. You can also pick any region currently supported by Hot Searches. Use fullscreen mode in your browser for the biggest, purest eye candy.
…and a few design updates
We’re also continuing to spruce up our site. Among other things, now the homepage shows you more interesting stuff up front, and the search box is always available at the top:
The new Trends homepage shows a list of today’s Hot Searches. Enter search terms at the top to see search interest over time and by geography.
We hope you enjoy bringing new stories to life with Google Trends. We love feedback, so please feel free to let us know what you think by posting online or by clicking “Send Feedback” at the bottom of any page in Google Trends.
Posted by Roni Rabin, Software Engineer
Category: Google | May 21, 2013
Dr. Anita Borg revolutionized the way we think about technology and worked to dismantle the barriers that keep women and minorities from entering the computing and technology fields. In her lifetime, Anita founded the Institute for Women and Technology (now The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology), began an online community called Systers for technical women, and co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. We’re proud to honor her memory through the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, established in 2004.
Today we’d like to recognize and congratulate the 30 Google Anita Borg Memorial scholars and the 30 Google Anita Borg Memorial finalists for 2013. The scholars, who attend universities in the United States and Canada, will join the annual Google Scholars’ Retreat this summer in New York City, where they will have the opportunity to attend tech talks on Google products, network with other scholars and Googlers, participate in developmental activities and sessions, and attend social activities. This year, the scholars will also have the opportunity to participate in a scholars’ edition of 24HoursOfGood, a hackathon in partnership with local non-profit organizations who work on education and STEM initiatives to make progress against a technical problem that is critical to their organization’s success.
Find out more (PDF) about our winners, including the institutions they attend. Soon we’ll select the Anita Borg scholars from our programs around the world. For more information on all our scholarships, visit the Google Scholarships site.
Posted by Azusa Liu, Student Development Programs Specialist
Category: Google | May 21, 2013
Every day on the Art Project Google+ page we post a snippet of information about a painting, an artist or a talk—and every day, at least one of our 4 million followers has something to say in response. We’re constantly delighted by how the appetite for art online is growing and today we have a veritable feast in store with a swathe of fresh artworks, gigapixel paintings and museums on Street View.
New artworks from the famous to the unusual
Mario Testino is a world-famous photographer, known for his work in the fashion industry. Fewer people are aware of his photographs focusing on the culture of his native Peru. A new body of photographs called “Alta Moda” (high fashion), featuring Andean people in traditional and festive dress, is currently on display in Testino’s cultural institution, MATE. And for those of you not lucky enough to visit Lima, you can now see this collection of 27 photos online on the Google Art Project.
In total, we have more than 1,500 new high-resolution artworks including masterpieces such as Monet’s “Waterlilies,” Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Man in a Broad-Brimmed Hat” and Johannes Vermeer’s “The Geographer” (meaning Art Project now houses 15 of his 34 total works, all contributed by different museums). However, the diversity goes well beyond paintings; from ancestral relics used to worship the dead to an ancient Jinsha gold mask from China thought to have been worn by sorcerers. Often the old contrasts with the new, with inscribed Arabic gemstones existing alongside contemporary glass structures from Germany as you can see in this “Compare” image below.
Zoom in to “gigapixel” paintings
Gigapixel paintings—very high-resolution works which enable you to zoom in at brushstroke level—have long been at the heart of the Art Project. They’re a great example of the magic that can happen when technology meets art—and today we have 16 new ones to add, ranging from famous pieces like “The Scream” by Edvard Munch to those chosen by public vote such as “Whitewashing the Old House” by L.A. Ring.
The beauty of gigapixels is their ability to surprise. Look at the painting “Fra Stalheim” by Johan Christian Dahl, shown in full on the left below. You’ll see a beautiful landscape. Zoom in, however, and you discover scenes within a scene—a village with smoking chimneys, a woman tending to her child, and cows grazing on the hillside. Details that can’t always be fully appreciated by the naked eye are brought to life online.
Immerse yourself in Street View
Through Street View and the Google Art Project, many museums have opened their galleries to the world the past few years, and today we’re launching 20 more. For example, Fondation Beyeler Museum in Switzerland houses a collection of seven Mark Rothko paintings. Now anyone in the world can virtually explore the collection.
Of course art collections are not exclusively found in museums—we’re delighted to have our first monastery on Street View in the Art Project. The Monastery of St. John the Theologian on the Greek island of Patmos was founded in 1088 and is a World Heritage Site. In addition to their 116 contributed artworks, you can also explore the architectural splendors of this ancient building.
Jump inside a whole range of beautiful buildings and corridors here by clicking on the orange pegman where it appears.
In a week that celebrates International Museum Day, we’re glad to be able to showcase some of the great treasures held by museums and cultural institutions the world over. There are so many benefits to bringing more content online, be it discovering a new style of art or artist, creating your own gallery, stumbling across a hidden detail of a painting you thought you knew or simply being inspired by something beautiful. With more than 40,000 total works and 250+ cultural organisations around the globe, we hope the experience will be more enriching than ever.
Posted by Marzia Niccolai, Google Art Project