Tag Archives: Environment

Getting hyper-local: Mapping street-level air quality across California

Most air pollution is measured at a city level, but air quality can change block by block, hour by hour and day to day. To better understand air quality on a more local level, we began working with our partner Aclima — to map air pollution across California using Google Street View cars—equipped with air quality sensors.  Earlier this year, we shared the the first results of this effort with pollution levels throughout the city of Oakland.

We're just beginning to understand what's possible with this hyper-local information and today, we’re starting to share some of our findings for the three California regions we’ve mapped: the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and California’s Central Valley (the Street View cars drove 100,000 miles, over the course of 4,000 hours to collect this data!) Scientists and air quality specialists can use this information to assist local organizations, governments, and regulators in identifying opportunities to achieve greater air quality improvements and solutions.

Over 195 nations will gather in Bonn for the COP23 UN Climate Climate Change conference this week. Rising to the climate challenge will involve a  mix of policy, technology and international cooperation and we believe that insights about air quality at the community level can help support both local and global action on climate. Below we’ve highlighted some of our findings for these regions. 

CA

Over a three month period, our Street View cars mapped air quality in different areas of Los Angeles, ranging from urban to residential, inland to the Pacific Ocean, and areas near major freeways, ports, or refineries. The measurements indicate that traffic-choked freeways, traffic on local streets, and weather patterns that blow pollution inland all influence the patterns of air pollution.

Air quality measurements in Los Angeles region (Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, IBCAO, Data LDEO-Columbia, NSF, Data USGS, Data CSUMB SFML, CA OPC)

Air quality measurements in Los Angeles region (Landsat / Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, IBCAO, Data LDEO-Columbia, NSF, Data USGS, Data CSUMB SFML, CA OPC)

Compared to Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, which we mapped over the past two years, is a higher density city. A large percentage of air pollution emissions comes from vehicles like cars, trucks, and construction equipment, and industrial sources like refineries and power plants added to the mix. The measurements here indicate street-level pollution patterns are affected by these local and distributed sources.

Air quality measurements in the San Francisco Bay Area region (TerraMetrics, Data CSUMB SFML, CA OPC, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Data LDEO-Columbia, NSF, Data MBARI, Landsat / Copernicus)

Air quality measurements in the San Francisco Bay Area region (TerraMetrics, Data CSUMB SFML, CA OPC, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Data LDEO-Columbia, NSF, Data MBARI, Landsat / Copernicus)

While much of California’s Central Valley is rural with a lot of agriculture, it’s also home to cities, such as Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, and Modesto. Interstate 5 and Interstate 99 are two major traffic corridors that run through the region, connecting Northern and Southern California. Interstate and regional traffic, along with industry and agriculture, are sources of air pollution in the region. Weather conditions and topography can trap air pollution between the coast and the Sierra Nevada mountains resulting in a chronic ozone and particulate matter levels that exceed public health standards.

Air quality measurements in California’s Central Valley region (Landsat / Copernicus, Data MBARI, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Data LDEO-Columbia, NSF, Data CSUMB SFML, CA OPC, Data USGS)

Air quality measurements in California’s Central Valley region (Landsat / Copernicus, Data MBARI, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Data LDEO-Columbia, NSF, Data CSUMB SFML, CA OPC, Data USGS)

So far, we’ve measured over one billion air quality data points but this is just the beginning—and now air quality scientists can request access to the data. Air quality impacts our planet and our health—and we hope this information helps us build smarter more sustainable cities, reduce climate changing greenhouse gases and improve air quality for healthier living.

Tune in to Aclima’s blog for more data stories from our California driving campaign in the coming days and weeks.

Source: Google LatLong


Healthy eating, with sustainability in mind

Today, the United Nations, Google and many others celebrate World Food Day, which promotes worldwide action on food security and ensuring nutritious diets for those who suffer from hunger. At Google, food is central to our culture and something we think about every day. Feeding more than 70,000 people around the world breakfast, lunch and dinner is a pretty big undertaking, and we strive to make healthy eating an easy choice for our employees and do so in the most sustainable way possible.


One of our priorities is to minimize the environmental impact from the production of the food in our cafes. This is particularly important given that agricultural activities in the U.S. are estimated to generate 9 percent of greenhouse gases. We start by sourcing our food from suppliers that raise, farm, and harvest food responsibly. This means thinking about nutrition, as well as environmental, and social factors such as food quality, food safety, employment practices and environmental impact.


Once we have the food and supplies in hand, we focus on reducing waste. On the pre-consumer side (the ingredients we use to prep food prior to serving), our food team looks for ways to reduce waste before food hits the plate, by cutting down on over-purchasing and creatively repurposing leftover ingredients to make new dishes. In April 2014, we formalized this effort by partnering with LeanPath, a technology that helps us understand exactly how and why food is being wasted in order to improve to our process.


Today we have 129 cafes participating in the LeanPath program across 11 countries. Since the start of the partnership, these efforts have saved a total of three million pounds of food. Our Food Team has analyzed the food waste data generated from this program, enabling chefs in Google cafes to try out new strategies that reduce food waste while serving healthy and delicious meals to Googlers.


Many Google cafes include two-sided salad bars and hot food lines. Now, multiple cafes are breaking down two-sided food stations when traffic starts to slow down. So, when fewer people are visiting the cafe, staff will shut down the duplicate side of a station to adjust the amount of food being served. We’re also opening more cafes that have made-to-order choices instead of buffets, and have started serving food in shallow pans that are refilled more frequently. Not only does this reduce the amount of food being prepared and ultimately wasted, it also results in fresher food being served.


As part of our partnership with LeanPath, we’re piloting a measurement program on the post-consumer side (after food has been served and enjoyed) in five of our cafes to track the food waste from each individual plate. Since food is self-served in these cafes, we’d rather Googlers come back for second helpings instead of taking more food than they can eat.  At the dish drop area in each of these cafes, a station is available for Googlers to scrape the excess food from their plate onto a scale telling them how much food they’re wasting.

While our priority is to reduce food waste from the start, it’s inevitable that there will be excess food prepared. In these situations, we want to ensure that the food is put to the best possible use. We participate in a program called Chefs to End Hunger, where we send untouched, edible food to local shelters and food banks in our communities. Through this program, we’ve contributed approximately 1,000 pounds of food per week from more than 40 Bay Area Google cafes to a transitional homeless shelter in Oakland, CA. After donating, our next step is to compost. In almost all Google cafes and buildings we have composting and recycling bins. As a result, we’re able to compost about 80 percent of waste in our cafes.


Plus, we’re always looking for new and creative food innovations. One example is our partnership with CoffeeFlour, a company that uses the discarded byproduct from the coffee-making process and grinds it into a flour. The flour can then be used in both sweet and savory dishes. CoffeeFlour is a nutrient-dense flour, so it’s a great alternative to traditional flour used in cooking and baking. This is a great example of how the food industry can be both sustainable and create healthy ingredients. The producer also employs local people in coffee-growing regions, so it has social benefits too. In addition to partnering with sustainable suppliers like CoffeeFlour, we've also made it a global priority to purchase imperfect produce—imperfect aesthetically on the outside but perfectly delicious on the inside—so that we can use produce that might otherwise go to waste.


We stand with the UN on their goal to halve global food waste by 2030 and create sustainable and resilient food systems that deliver for all people and the planet. We know it will take a huge amount of effort and are committed to doing our part and help raise awareness for this imperative work. At Google, we like to tackle the biggest problems by starting with our own impact. Food is a precious resource, and we’ll always look for ways to conserve what we use and share what we learn.

Why building on an environmentally responsible cloud matters

Operating Google in an environmentally sustainable way has been a core value from day one. Each year we release our environmental report to share updates on our progress towards a more sustainable future. This year’s report marks our 10th year of carbon neutrality, and we’re excited to share that, in 2017, we’ll reach our goal of 100 percent renewable energy for all of our operations. This includes our data centers, which support our millions of customers on Google Cloud.

As more and more companies transform their businesses digitally, or build new ones, renewable energy is increasingly critical. As businesses, we affect the environment in ways often not clearly visible. Continued and accelerated digital transformation will generate a large digital exhaust. Some projections have data centers consuming as much as 13 percent of the world’s electricity by 2030. If that electricity is not sourced responsibly, it has the potential to significantly and negatively impact the environment.

sustainability-on-gcp-4

We believe that environmental impact should be an important consideration—alongside factors such as price, security, openness and reliability—when it comes to data storage, processing and development. Fortunately, more and more companies are making commitments toward sustainability.

Here are a few ways businesses can create real impact:

  • By moving from a self-managed data center or colocation facility to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the emissions directly associated with your company’s compute and data storage will be reduced to zero.

  • Businesses that switch to cloud-based productivity tools like G Suite have reported reductions in IT energy use and carbon emissions by 65 percent to 85 percent.

  • Machine learning workloads can require complex computations that are energy intensive. Google Cloud TPUs are designed with energy efficiency in mind, specifically to accelerate deep learning workloads at higher teraflops per watt compared to general purpose processors.

  • Energy efficient cold storage options can help you retain data long term without sacrificing speed to access.

Google takes our commitment to sustainability very seriously. Many data centers use almost as much non-computing or "overhead" energy (like cooling and power conversion) as they do to power their servers. At Google, we've reduced this overhead to only 12 percent (a.k.a. a PUE of 1.12). We also use our own machine learning in our data centers, which enables the analysis of massive amounts of operational data center data to create actionable recommendations, automated controls and 15 percent further reduction in energy overhead.

For each unit of electricity we use as a company, we’ve committed to purchasing an equivalent amount (or more) of renewable energy. This includes the energy we use to power all our Google Cloud users. We also have a high bar for the energy we purchase: We strive to buy renewable energy from projects that are new to the grid, enabling those developers to finance and add even more green power.  In fact, Google is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world.

sustainability-on-gcp-3

We’re very proud that Greenpeace gave us an A rating in the 2016 Clicking Clean report, its annual benchmark of the IT sector’s energy performance. But we know there’s still more work to be done. We believe that building on a sustainable cloud is not just good for the environment, it’s good for business, too. We built Google on that belief—and we invite you to build your business on it as well.  

Source: Google Cloud


Why building on an environmentally responsible cloud matters

Operating Google in an environmentally sustainable way has been a core value from day one. Each year we release our environmental report to share updates on our progress towards a more sustainable future. This year’s report marks our 10th year of carbon neutrality, and we’re excited to share that, in 2017, we’ll reach our goal of 100 percent renewable energy for all of our operations. This includes our data centers, which support our millions of customers on Google Cloud.

As more and more companies transform their businesses digitally, or build new ones, renewable energy is increasingly critical. As businesses, we affect the environment in ways often not clearly visible. Continued and accelerated digital transformation will generate a large digital exhaust. Some projections have data centers consuming as much as 13 percent of the world’s electricity by 2030. If that electricity is not sourced responsibly, it has the potential to significantly and negatively impact the environment.

sustainability-on-gcp-4

We believe that environmental impact should be an important consideration—alongside factors such as price, security, openness and reliability—when it comes to data storage, processing and development. Fortunately, more and more companies are making commitments toward sustainability.

Here are a few ways businesses can create real impact:

  • By moving from a self-managed data center or colocation facility to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the emissions directly associated with your company’s compute and data storage will be reduced to zero.

  • Businesses that switch to cloud-based productivity tools like G Suite have reported reductions in IT energy use and carbon emissions by 65 percent to 85 percent.

  • Machine learning workloads can require complex computations that are energy intensive. Google Cloud TPUs are designed with energy efficiency in mind, specifically to accelerate deep learning workloads at higher teraflops per watt compared to general purpose processors.

  • Energy efficient cold storage options can help you retain data long term without sacrificing speed to access.

Google takes our commitment to sustainability very seriously. Many data centers use almost as much non-computing or "overhead" energy (like cooling and power conversion) as they do to power their servers. At Google, we've reduced this overhead to only 12 percent (a.k.a. a PUE of 1.12). We also use our own machine learning in our data centers, which enables the analysis of massive amounts of operational data center data to create actionable recommendations, automated controls and 15 percent further reduction in energy overhead.

For each unit of electricity we use as a company, we’ve committed to purchasing an equivalent amount (or more) of renewable energy. This includes the energy we use to power all our Google Cloud users. We also have a high bar for the energy we purchase: We strive to buy renewable energy from projects that are new to the grid, enabling those developers to finance and add even more green power.  In fact, Google is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world.

sustainability-on-gcp-3

We’re very proud that Greenpeace gave us an A rating in the 2016 Clicking Clean report, its annual benchmark of the IT sector’s energy performance. But we know there’s still more work to be done. We believe that building on a sustainable cloud is not just good for the environment, it’s good for business, too. We built Google on that belief—and we invite you to build your business on it as well.  

Our 2017 environmental report

Today, we published our updated Environmental Report, which provides data on Google's environmental sustainability programs. This report closes out 2016, a landmark year ushering in three major milestones: 10 years of carbon neutrality, 10 years for the Earth Outreach program, and reaching 100 percent renewable energy for our operations.

Last year, we marked 10 years of operating as a carbon neutral company. In 2007, we committed to aggressively pursuing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and high-quality carbon offsets. Since then, our carbon footprint has grown more slowly than our business. We’ve learned and advanced across these areas in ways we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago—and the work has proven that we can serve a growing number of users while using fewer natural resources.

Most notably, in 2017 Google will reach 100 percent renewable energy for our global operations—including both our data centers and offices. That means that we will directly purchase enough wind and solar electricity annually to account for every unit of electricity we consume, globally. This shift in our energy strategy didn’t just significantly reduce our environmental impact. By pioneering new energy purchasing models that others can follow, we’ve helped drive widescale global adoption of clean energy.

Also marking 10 years is the Earth Outreach program, which gives nonprofit groups resources, tools, and inspiration to leverage the power of Google Earth and other mapping tools for their causes. Earth Outreach is now combining machine learning and cloud computing to build a living, breathing dashboard of the planet. By turning the mountains of geo-data we have into insights and knowledge, we can help guide better decision-making in local communities and at global scale.

earth online

A major consequence of society’s “take-make-waste” economic model is climate change, one of the most significant challenges of our time. We believe Google can build tools to improve people’s lives while reducing our dependence on natural resources and fossil fuels. And we’re committed to working with others to empower everyone—businesses, governments, nonprofit organizations, communities, and individuals—to create a more sustainable world.

We’ve shared some new stories on our environment website about renewable energy in Europe and our healthy building materials tool. We also describe how these efforts can positively impact the millions of customers using Google Cloud.

Google is moving in the right direction when it comes to environmental stewardship—but there’s a lot more work to do. We’re looking ahead at the next 10 years of decreasing our impact on the earth while building technology that helps as many people as possible.

Why we should develop “circular cities” and how Google technology can help

The process of digging up materials, turning those materials into a product, and shipping it to an “end user” (who eventually tosses it in the trash) is called the “linear” economy, and it’s depleting our world of resources faster than they can be replenished. We need to ditch this old model and move to a “circular” economy. Instead of using raw resources (think timber and ore) to create new products, the circular economy keeps materials in circulation for multiple uses, whether they are maintained, reused, refurbished, or recycled.

Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas accounting for 75 percent of natural resource consumption, 50 percent of global waste production, and 60-80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. So, the concept of the circular economy is especially relevant in cities.

Digital technology helps city leaders and citizens gather, refine, and analyze data to create cities that are circular by design. Today we published a white paper with our partners at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that explores how digital technology and a few of Google’s existing efforts can enable more circular cities. Google has captured insights across cities, from the quality of the air people breathe to the amount of solar power people could put on their roof at home. Google Cloud Platform allows for global-scale data sharing and provides the foundation for collaborative projects between public and private organizations, such as the Waze Connected Citizens Program.

Along with Arup and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we’re also exploring how to build circular cities through a joint project called the Circularity Lab. Located in both the Bay Area and New York City, the Lab will raise awareness about circularity in the built environment and create a space where people can see how it could positively impact their lives and communities.

The circular economy model, enriched with technology, is a powerful and potentially highly productive combination. We’re excited to continue exploring these opportunities.

Exploring strategies to decarbonize electricity

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and the way we generate and use electricity now is a major contributor to that issue. To solve it, we need to find a way to eliminate the carbon emissions associated with our electricity as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

Many analysts have come up with a number of possible solutions: renewable energy plus increased energy storage capacity, nuclear power, carbon capture and sequestration from fossil fuels, or a mixture of these. But we realized that the different answers came from different assumptions that people were making about what combination of those technologies and policies would lead to a positive change.

To help our team understand these dynamics, we created a tool that allows us to quickly see how different assumptions—wind, solar, coal, nuclear, for example—affect the future cost to generate electricity and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

We created a simplified model of the electrical grid, where demand is always fulfilled at least cost. By “least cost,” we mean the cost of constructing and maintaining power plants, and generating electricity (with fuel, if required). For a given set of assumptions, the model determines the amount of generation capacity to build and when to turn on which type of generator. Our model is similar to others proposed in other research, but we’ve simplified the model to make it run fast.

We then ran the model hundreds of thousands of times with different assumptions, using our computing infrastructure. We gather all of the runs of the model and present them in a simple web page. Anyone —from students to energy policy wonks—can try different assumptions and see how those assumptions will affect the cost and CO2. The web UI is available for you to try: you can explore the how utilities decide to dispatch their generation capacity, then can test different assumptions. Finally, you can compare different assumptions and share them with others.

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We’ve written up the technical details of the model in this paper. In case you want to change the assumptions in the model, we are also releasing the code on Github. The paper shows how the cost of generation technologies change as a function of the fraction of demand that they fulfill. The paper also discusses the limitations and validity of the model.

One interesting conclusion of the paper: if we can find a zero-carbon, 24x7 electricity source that costs about $2200/kW to build, it can displace carbon emission from the electricity grid in less than 27 years. We hope that the tool and the paper help people understand their assumptions about the future of electricity, and stimulate research into climate and energy.

Seeing is believing in the fight against climate change

In 2005, more than a thousand of acres of land in my hometown in the Santa Cruz mountains were under threat from a proposed logging contract that would have severely damaged our ecosystem by tearing down ancient Redwoods, increasing potential fire danger and endangering public safety. As part of the community group Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging, I used Google Earth to build a flyover of the area to show how closely this logging would take place to residential life, and the dangers it would create. Making geographic data visible and easily intelligible helped to bring together the community to defeat the logging proposal. Seeing is often believing.

That’s the core mission behind Google Earth. We aim to build the most detailed and realistic digital replica of our changing planet and make it universally accessible to the public—a utility for all. We’re trying to fix what former Vice President Al Gore, in his speech on the Digital Earth, called the challenge of “turning raw data into understandable information.”

Emerging technologies like our own Google Earth Engine and Google Cloud Machine Learning, and artificial intelligence in general are doing just that: empowering scientists and practitioners to create solutions at the cutting edge of global sustainability, and turning the mountains of geo-data we have into the insights and knowledge needed to guide better decision-making. This work helps drive adoption of renewable energy technologies such as solar, and allows us to better understand and manage the world’s forests, oceans, water and air.

Our team had the chance to sit down with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the roles of data, tools and technology in solving the climate crisis.

We’re grateful to leaders like Al Gore, and all who act as stewards of our shared planetary home. The last decade has seen immense technological progress—and we'll continue to work on data and tools to guide us to a more sustainable world.

Chasing Coral on Google Earth

Editor’s Note: Richard Vevers, Founder and CEO at the Ocean Agency, talks about his quest to protect our oceans and the underwater journey with Street View that led to “Chasing Coral,” a new Netflix documentary.

I am floating above a graveyard, millions of tiny skeletons below me. I am stunned, I am silent. I am witnessing a tragedy in progress. My camera clicks and whirrs, capturing a 360-degree picture of the devastation.

The graveyard was once a thriving coral reef, one of our planet’s most gorgeous and awe-inspiring marvels and home to thousands of species. Colorful corals growing in all shapes and sizes, clownfish peeking out of every anemone. Up above, manta rays and turtles swam in lazy circles, scattering the great glittering schools of tiny blue fish.

What happened? 

That’s the question “Chasing Coral” seeks to answer. The film, a Netflix original documentary released today, follows my crew of divers, photographers, and scientists on our quest to reveal what is killing our oceans … and how we can stop it.

“Chasing Coral” was born from a simple idea: If we could give people a personal, up-close look at how their oceans are being destroyed, they would want to protect them. For the past five years, we’ve been working with Google to make this happen. We created Underwater Street View, which lets people take virtual dives in some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs. Now with Google Earth, you can splash around in the sparkling waters of a coral reef without even leaving the house.

From there, we set out to show people the great beauty of our coral reefs, as well as the terrible danger that threatens their existence. By collecting Underwater Street View, we found undeniable proof of climate change destruction in the ocean. Documented so spectacularly by Jeff Orlowski in “Chasing Coral,” the warning signs are unmistakable. The countdown has already begun.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. Some coral reefs are less vulnerable to the rising water temperatures that have already killed so many others. This year we started the 50 Reefs to find these resilient reefs—the ones that with the greatest capacity to repopulate other reefs—so that we can bolster our efforts to protect the corals that still remain. In October we’ll announce a list of the reefs that could be pivotal for the future of the ocean, a list that can catalyze global action.

The release of “Chasing Coral” and the launch of 50 Reefs share two critical ideas: what happens to coral reefs affects every single person on Earth (even if they’re thousands of miles from the nearest coast); and, if we want to save the reefs, we need everyone to pitch in now.

There’s already been an outpouring of support for our work from philanthropic foundations like Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, and Paul G. Allen Philanthropies. With their help, we’ve been able to launch an initiative that could make all the difference. We’ve got a lot of work yet to do, but we’re off to a promising start.

Now that “Chasing Coral” is free to stream on Netflix, I hope that you’ll watch it. I hope that you’ll feel the same wonder that I felt as a child when I slipped beneath the waves for the first time and found myself in an underwater paradise of beauty and color. I hope the film will both sadden and strengthen you. I hope you will spread the word.

Most of all, though, I hope you join the fight to save coral reefs. Please follow our story on Google Earth and support us at 50Reefs.org.

I Am Amazon: Discover your connection to the rainforest with Google Earth

For many people around the world, the Amazon is a mysterious faraway land of impenetrable jungles, majestic rivers and indigenous peoples. But what many of us may not realize is that we all have a connection to the Amazon—through the air we breathe, the water that irrigates the food we eat, the natural ingredients in the medicines we use, or the shifting weather patterns that we experience around the globe.

Today we invite you to venture into the heart of the Amazon and discover your connection to the world's largest rainforest through Voyager, Google Earth's storytelling platform. You’ll find 11 new interactive stories about different parts of the vast Brazilian Amazon region, which is home to about 27 million people and a wide array of cultures.

All of these stories are told by the diverse peoples who call the forest home, and some were produced by one of Brazil's greatest storytellers, the acclaimed film director Fernando Meirelles. Combined, they create an immersive web and mobile experience told through video, mapping, audio and 360° virtual reality, covering a broad range of issues facing the future of the rainforest—and, consequently, the planet.

These stories reflect the complexity of the Amazon, which produces 20 percent of the Earth's oxygen and is home to one in 10 of the world's animal species. Learn about the supply chain behind the vast array of forest delicacies, like Brazil nuts and açaí, that end up on supermarket shelves worldwide; or about local economies once dependent on illegal logging that are now reorganized around sustainability efforts; or about Quilombolas, communities of descendants of enslaved peoples, and their struggle to obtain titles for their lands.

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View "I Am Amazon" in Google Earth

Thanks to our partnership with the Instituto Socioambiental, we're also publishing in Google Earth Voyager for the first time a comprehensive atlas of indigenous lands in Brazil and the people who live there. And we're filling in those maps with in-depth interactive stories told by the Amazon communities themselves.

You can learn about indigenous peoples like the Tembé and the Paiter Suruí, who are using monitoring technologies to protect their territories from illegal incursions by outsiders and deforestation; or the Yawanawá, a tribe that under the leadership of women has revived its cultural heritage and carved out a place in the global cosmetics industry by sustainably harvesting urucum, a reddish seed used in lipstick and other products.

These stories are the culmination of 10 years of work with the peoples of the Amazon. Back in 2007, Paiter Suruí leader Chief Almir came across Google Earth and quickly saw its potential to help safeguard the heritage and traditions of his people. So he proposed a partnership with Google that resulted in an online map of Suruí cultural heritage, the first ever indigenous community-led deforestation and forest carbon mapping project. Through this project, the Suruí calculated the value of their forest on the voluntary carbon marketplace, and became the first indigenous community to receive funds for preserving their lands.

Technology is an important tool that is helping us to protect the forest and keep our traditions alive. Ubiratan Suruí Suruí Indigenous People's Association

Over the years, we've built on this work with the Suruí and expanded it to an additional 30 communities in the Amazon, with more to come. We also recently integrated certified Brazilian indigenous territories into Google Maps, all 472 of them.

Since its creation more than a decade ago, Google Earth has always aimed to bring the magic of our planet to everyone in a beautiful, accessible and enriching way. We hope these fascinating stories from the Amazon do all of that and more, inspiring curious minds to explore, learn and care about our vast, fragile planet.

Source: Google LatLong