Tag Archives: #Google #GoogleCanada #Innovation

Canada Accelerates its Climate Action with Data

In 2015 under the COP21 Paris Climate Accord, Canada committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 baseline levels by 2030. Cities across Canada are rising to this challenge and many have set their own emissions reduction targets, but measuring which activities contribute to GHG emissions is complex, time-consuming and often costly. 

We’re addressing these challenges with the Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), an online and freely accessible tool making it easier for cities to measure their emissions, set climate goals and develop climate action plans. The tool was developed in partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors, and first launched in 2018, featuring Victoria, B.C as an inaugural city.

Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re expanding access to EIE to a number of additional cities across Canada, helping them to reduce their carbon footprint. “Google remains steadfast in its commitment to sustainability and a zero-carbon future. By making complex data simple and easy to understand, we aim to empower cities with technology to help create a clean and healthy planet for everyone.”, says Kate Brandt, Google Sustainability Officer.

Accelerated city-wide analysis
By analyzing Google’s comprehensive global mapping data together with greenhouse gas (GHG) emission factors, EIE estimates city-scale building and transportation carbon emissions data with the option to drill down into more specific data, such as the distances travelled by mode (automobiles, public transit, biking etc) or the percentage of emissions generated by residential or non-residential buildings.

“By using EIE to compare the GHG emission estimates to the City’s own GHG emissions calculations, City staff can be more confident in taking data-informed decisions aligned to our Community Energy Action Plan.”, says Jamie Skimming, Manager of Community Energy Initiatives at the City of London, Ontario.

EIE also provides renewable energy insights, with city-wide solar energy maps to help cities evaluate the potential of reducing emissions. “The solar map from EIE is particularly valuable to assess the solar energy potential of municipal buildings in London such as community centres and arenas,” says Skimming.

An experienced energy advisor to both the public and private sectors, Dunsky Energy Consulting has worked with municipalities across Canada in achieving deep carbon reductions from their energy and transportation sectors. “We are proud to be working with Google on its innovative EIE platform,” says Philippe Dunsky, President of Dunsky Energy Consulting, ”We believe EIE will help cities implement successful carbon reduction strategies to be leaders on the path toward a clean energy future.
The insights that EIE provides have traditionally required many months of research, and a lot of resources for cities undertaking a climate action plan. By using Google’s own data sources and computations to produce a complete survey of a city that can be assessed very quickly, EIE helps a city leapfrog tedious and costly data collection and analysis.
As we seek to become more efficient, Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer allows us to focus on the work that is in front of us so that our city can be part of a greener, smarter future.”states Mayor Charlie Clark, City of Saskatoon.

Public engagement, grounded in science

“Measuring GHG emissions is just one piece of the puzzle,” says Rebecca Moore, Director of Google Earth, the team behind EIE. To achieve their ambitious emissions reductions targets, cities must also devise plans that work for city residents to make them a reality. “For example, cities can use EIE data to answer a question like ‘How could we reduce our carbon footprint by transitioning some percentage of short car trips to bicycle trips?’”, says Moore.

"The launch of this google tool in Edmonton engages our residents in learning more about the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in our city.”, says Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. “The user-friendly and visual nature of the tool will give us important data that can help us make the changes we need to ensure a sustainable future."

Canada’s next chapter

Taking action on climate requires a number of climate actors to come together - cities to develop plans and catalyze action, policy makers to create favourable conditions for these plans, and businesses and utilities to implement projects. Making EIE data accessible to more cities across Canada will nurture an ecosystem that can bring climate action plans to life.

Amanda Eichel, Executive Director of the Global Covenant of Mayors puts it best in saying, “Cities are at the forefront of an unprecedented global challenge and need all the information they can get to make smart decisions in the face of the climate crisis.”

EIE is committed to helping Canadian cities with their climate action ambitions. This expansion to cities across Canada is the next step in an important journey helping cities lead Canada toward a low-carbon future. 

Posted by James Henry, Sustainability Lead, Google Canada

To learn more about EIE in your city, contact us here on insights.sustainability.google. The Environmental Insights Explorer looks forward to helping more cities create a healthier, cleaner future for their citizens and for the planet.

Indigenous speakers in Canada share their languages on Google Earth

Of the 7,000 languages spoken around the globe, 2,680 Indigenous languages—more than one third of
the world's languages—are in danger of disappearing. The United Nations declared 2019 the
International Year of Indigenous Languages to raise awareness about these languages and their
contribution to global diversity. To help preserve them, our new Google Earth tour,
Celebrating Indigenous Languages, shares audio recordings from more than 50 Indigenous language

“It is a human right to be able to speak your own language,” says Tania Haerekiterā Tapueluelu
Wolfgramm, a Māori and Tongan person who works as an educator and activist in Aotearoa--the Māori
name for New Zealand--and other Pacific countries. “You don’t have a culture without the language.”

Tania is one of several dozen Indigenous language speakers, advocates and educators who helped
create the tour. Thanks to their contributions, people can click on locations meaningful to Indigenous
speakers and hear people offer traditional greetings, sing songs, or say common words and phrases in
their languages. 

“Hundreds of languages are a few days away from never being spoken or heard again,” says Tania.
“By putting Indigenous languages on the global stage, we reclaim our right to talk about our lives in our
own words. It means everything to us.”
Listen to more than 50 Indigenous language speakers globally in Google Earth

The healing power of speaking one’s own language

The people who recorded audio in their languages and connected Google with Indigenous speakers
each have their own story about why revitalizing Indigenous languages strikes a chord for them. 

For Arden Ogg, director of Canada’s Cree Literacy Network, and Dolores Greyeyes Sand, a Plains Cree
person and Cree language teacher, the focus is on providing resources for language learners. For Brian
Thom, a cultural anthropologist and professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, the
interest grew out of his work helping Indigenous communities map their traditional lands

Brian asked yutustanaat, a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and a language teacher in British
Columbia, to record the hul’q’umi’num’ language. “Our language is very healing,” says yutustanaat. “It
brings out caring in our people and helps our students be strong, because the language comes from
the heart.” In her recording, yutustanaat speaks the traditional hul’q’umi’num’ greeting:
‘i ch ‘o’ ‘uy’ ‘ul’ or “How are you?”

By using their languages—and sharing them with the rest of the world—Indigenous people create closer
connections to a culture that is often endangered or has outright disappeared. 

Wikuki Kingi, a Māori Master Carver, recorded traditional chants in Te Reo Māori, an Eastern Polynesian
language indigenous to New Zealand. He says, “Speaking Te Reo Māori connects me to my relatives, to
the land, rivers, and the ocean, and it can take me to another time and place.” 

On the right, yutustanaat, a Snuneymuxw First Nation member, records the hul’q’umi’num’ language
with student Beatrix Taylor. Listen to it in the Celebrating Indigenous Languages collection.
Photo credit: Brian Thom

Ensuring that generations to come will hear their languages

“I do this not for myself, but for my children and grandchildren, so that in the future, they’ll hear our
language,” says Dolores, who recorded audio in her native Plains Cree

To ensure that future generations hear and speak Indigenous languages, more needs to be done to
support their revitalization. Tania Wolfgramm suggests checking out how her nonprofit organization,
Global Reach Initiative & Development Pacific, uses technology to connect far-flung Indigenous people
to their traditional communities—like bringing Google Street View to the remote island of Tonga. Arden
Ogg directs people interested in Indigenous languages to the Cree Literacy Network, which publishes
books in Cree and English to facilitate language learning. And a video from the University of Victoria
suggests five ways to support Indigenous language revitalization, such as learning words and phrases
using smartphone apps, and learning the names of rivers, mountains and towns in the local Indigenous

This initial collection of audio recordings in Google Earth only scratches the surface of the world’s
thousands of Indigenous languages. If you’d like to contribute your language to this collection in the
future, please share your interest.    

Google Translate’s update helps Canadians connect and communicate in different languages

Google Translate allows you to explore unfamiliar lands, communicate in different languages, and make
connections that would be otherwise impossible. One of my favourite features on the
Google Translate mobile app is instant camera translation, which allows you to see the world in your language by
just pointing your camera lens at the foreign text. Similar to the real-time translation feature we recently launched in
Google Lens, this is an intuitive way to understand your surroundings, and it’s especially helpful when you’re
traveling abroad as it works even when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi or using cellular data. Today, we’re launching
new upgrades to this feature, so that it’s even more useful.
Translate from 88 languages into 100+ languages

The instant camera translation adds support for 60 more languages, such as Arabic, Hindi, Malay, Thai and
Vietnamese. Here’s a full list of all 88 supported languages. What’s more exciting is that, previously you could only
translate between English and other languages, but now you can translate into any of the 100+ languages
supported on Google Translate. This means you can now translate from Arabic to French, or from Japanese to
Chinese, etc. 

Automatically detect the language

When traveling abroad, especially in a region with multiple languages, it can be challenging for people to determine
the language of the text that they need to translate. We took care of that—in the new version of the app, you can
just select “Detect language” as the source language, and the Translate app will automatically detect the language
and translate. Say you’re traveling through South America, where both Portuguese and Spanish are spoken, and
you encounter a sign. Translate app can now determine what language the sign is in, and then translate it for you
into your language of choice.

Better translations powered by Neural Machine Translation

For the first time, Neural Machine Translation (NMT) technology is built into instant camera translations. This
produces more accurate and natural translations, reducing errors by 55-85 percent in certain language pairs. And
most of the languages can be downloaded onto your device, so that you can use the feature without an internet
connection. However, when your device is connected to the internet, the feature uses that connection to produce
higher quality translations.

A new look

Last but not least, the feature has a new look and is more intuitive to use. In the past, you might have noticed the
translated text would flicker when viewed on your phone, making it difficult to read. We’ve reduced that flickering,
making the text more stable and easier to understand. The new look has all three camera translation features
conveniently located on the bottom of the app: “Instant” translates foreign text when you point your camera at it.
"Scan" lets you take a photo and use your finger to highlight text you want translated. And “Import” lets you translate
text from photos on your camera roll. 

To try out the the instant camera translation feature, download the Google Translate app.

Xinxing Gu, Product Manager, Google Translate

Take your own journey: Experience one of Parks Canada’s breathtaking destinations with new Google Street View imagery

Authored by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Every year, on April 22, people around the world celebrate Earth Day in support of the environment. What better time to launch new Google Street View imagery, featuring some of Parks Canada’s most awe-inspiring places. As a result of the long-term collaboration between two iconic organizations - Google and Parks Canada, virtual visitors can explore mountain-top vistas, meandering ocean-side trails, and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Our national parks represent the best that Canada has to offer and are gateways to nature. This new Google Street View imagery introduces you to some of the incredible wonders of Canada’s vast network of protected wilderness and encourages you to discover more. It may even inspire you to visit. I can promise you incredible memories that will last a lifetime if you do.

The new Google Street View imagery is also a reminder that we have a collective responsibility to protect the natural world. As we continue to see the impacts of climate change on our land and water, the need to protect them only increases. Allowing more people to see these treasured places will help build appreciation for them and future stewards to help protect them.

This latest Google Street View release includes stunning images of Nahanni National Park Reserve (Nahʔą Dehé, Northwest Territories). The park touches the Boreal Cordillera Ecozone, is globally renowned for its geological landforms, and its natural heritage is internationally recognized by UNESCO. Virtual visitors anywhere can experience Virginia Falls, also known by the Dene name, Náįlįcho. They can also explore the amazing Rabbitkettle (Gahnîhthah) mineral springs and tufa mound, and rock climbing mecca, the Cirque of the Unclimbables.

Enjoy the rugged backcountry, mountain climbs, and a hot spring of one of our newest (and least-visited) national parks - Nááts'ı̨hch'oh National Park Reserve (Northwest Territories) that have been captured on Google Street View. The park is named after Nááts'ı̨hch'oh the mountain, which is a powerful place for the people of Sahtu, and is located in the traditional lands of Shúhtaot'ine (Mountain Dene). The imagery captured of the park will include highlights of Hamlet of Tulita, a fly-in access only community that is the main base of operations for Nááts'ı̨hch'oh.

Wonders from Banff National Park (Alberta), Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (British Columbia), Terra Nova National Park (Newfoundland), and Glacier and Mount Revelstoke national parks (British Columbia) have also been published as part of this release for you to explore and experience virtually.

Parks Canada preserves the sensitive ecosystems of our national parks, while providing Canadians with unparalleled opportunities to connect with nature. And Parks Canada works with Indigenous peoples to protect these treasured places and shares their stories with the world. I hope that experiencing this new Google Street View imagery will provide a better appreciation and understanding of the importance of our national parks. I encourage you to take the journey with Parks Canada and Google to learn about Canada’s natural, cultural and Indigenous heritage, and start dreaming about your next trip.

 Happy (early) Earth Day!

Celebrating 10 years of Street View in Canada and around the world!

Street View started out as Larry Page’s far-fetched idea to create a 360-degree map of the world. Today, 10 years after the first imagery was published in Street View, Canadians can scale mountains, take a tour of the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge, scout out the best Street Art in Montreal, and walk through Canadian museums. Over the last decade, a lot has changed—the technology we use, the appearance of the planet—but the goal of Google Maps has remained the same: to help you navigate and discover new corners of the world. Now raise your glass (or smartphone), and cheers to Street View’s 10th birthday!

[Whistler Mountain in British Columbia]

Let’s hop inside our time machine and see where it all began. Larry kicked off the first prototype in 2004 with a team of Googlers who were passionate about his idea to create a 360-degree view of the world. They tossed cameras on a van, added some lasers (okay maybe it was a bit more complicated than that), and the first Street View car was born. In 2006, Street View officially hit the roads in a few cities across the U.S. and the first imagery was published in May 2007. In Canada, Street View cars came up to Montreal through Vermont in September 2007 with the first image being of Highway 55. Ten years later, we’ve published imagery on every continent, in 83 countries, and traveled about 10 million miles with the Street View car. Talk about a roadtrip.

[First image of Highway 55 - Vermont border crossing on the way to Montreal - the first image in Street View in Canada]

While our cars explored streets around the world, we were still missing out on some of the most beautiful places on Earth: the world that exists beyond the roads. So we developed custom rigs, like the Street View Trekker, to go where cars couldn’t go. The Trekker is designed to be worn and walked through narrow alleyways or trails, gathering images as it goes. It’s traveled to breathtaking natural wonders and world heritage sites—Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the Galapagos Islands and even the historic pedestrian paths in Venice. And it's been used by conservation organizations to observe wildlife, like elephants, chimps, polar bears, and frogs in the Amazon, in their natural habitat. Over the years we've put Street View cameras on a snowmobile to bring you closer to the Arctic Eiders, the back of a camel to roam the Arabian desert, and a trolley to give you a better view of renowned works of art.

[Street View cameras on a snowmobile to bring you closer to the Arctic Eiders]

To build our map of the world faster, in 2013 we enlisted the help of partners through the Trekker Loan Program. We gave volunteers Street View cameras, which they used to collect 360-degree imagery of the local places they know best. Then the Street View App came along in 2015, so that anyone could publish photo spheres (360-degree panoramas) of their favorite places from around the world—or around the block—to Google Maps in an instant. We expanded on this last month, when we announced more than 20 new Street View-compatible 360 cameras, to help you document your adventures with high quality imagery. Now anyone—from tourism organizations to local neighborhood enthusiast—can contribute panoramic imagery to Street View.

The world is better explored than explained. Street View gives you a taste of the places you’ll see in person one day, helps you remember the places you've been, and enables you to explore the places you might never get to. So pick up your phone and take a peek. Many wonders await.

Authored By: Arjun Raman, Technical Program Management Director, Street View