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This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries. Like many of you, we were deeply upset by this issue, and we are fixing it now. We apologize this has taken some time to resolve, and want to share more about what we are doing to correct the problem.

At Google, we work hard to bring people the information they are looking for, including information about the physical world through Google Maps. Our ranking systems are designed to return results that match a person’s query. For Maps, this means using content about businesses and other public places from across the web. But this week, we heard about a failure in our system—loud and clear. Certain offensive search terms were triggering unexpected maps results, typically because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place. This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for.

Our team has been working hard to fix this issue. Building upon a key algorithmic change we developed for Google Search, we’ve started to update our ranking system to address the majority of these searches—this will gradually roll out globally and we’ll continue to refine our systems over time. Simply put, you shouldn’t see these kinds of results in Google Maps, and we’re taking steps to make sure you don't.

Again, we sincerely apologize for the offense this has caused, and we will do better in the future.

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Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in the U.S., and is a time to pay tribute to service men and women. So whether you’ll be manning the grill or marching in your local parade, you’re probably looking forward to the three-day weekend with your friends and family. The only thing that might slow you down? Traffic: Memorial Day is one of the busiest driving days of the year. Luckily, Google Maps can help you find the best route to your destination with the fewest delays.

And just in time for you to hit the road, we’re updating Google Maps with new traffic alerts to help you avoid jams and get the most out of your holiday weekend. Now when you input your destination, you’ll get an explanation of upcoming traffic conditions that helps you identify the quickest route. While you’re on the road, Google Maps will give you a heads up if congestion lies ahead, and how long you’ll be stuck in a jam. You’ll also get the option to take alternate routes, including explanations for why one is recommended—whether it’s the fastest or avoids an incident.




Top Google Maps Trends

For a glimpse at how people around the country are looking to celebrate Memorial Day, we took a look at the top six trending searches from last year. Turns out that hitting the shore and fueling up for long road trips are common plans for those of you looking to get out and about. For those sticking around home, sprucing up the house seems to be a popular pastime.




Top Google Maps Destination Searches
We also took a look at the top five Google Maps destinations searched in five cities over Memorial Day weekend in 2014. If this Memorial Day is anything like the last, a lot of you will be lacing up your hiking boots, loading up your surfboards or readying your tackle boxes for a trip to one of these outdoor spots:







Whether you plan to join the crowds or avoid them on this long Memorial Day weekend, Google Maps is here to smooth the way.

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For almost 88 million years, the island of Madagascar has stood off the coast of Southeast Africa. From the tropical humid and dry forests of the interior, home to ring-tailed lemurs, to the mangrove ecosystems along the coast, the island is home to some of the most unusual and delicate ecosystems on Earth. Now for the first time, through our Trekker Loan partnership with conservation organization Blue Ventures and the Department of Water and Forests: University of Antananarivo, the Madagascar Ministry of Culture, and Madagascar National Parks, you can take a virtual journey to Madagascar with Street View in Google Maps. 

Walking along the avenues of Western Madagascar, you’ll notice a stand of Baobab trees. Against the clear skies, these unusual trees look almost unfinished, with thick trunks and sparse canopies.


For a bird’s-eye view of the island, stand along the edge of the Karambony cliffs. Looking out at the vast, wild landscape, you can see how many different worlds exist on this one island—from the vast mountain peaks to the streaming rivers flowing out into the Indian Ocean.



Though beautiful scenery abounds in Madagascar, the country is also facing real challenges due to the increased demand placed on natural resources. While much of the plant and animal life has remained abundant over the centuries, this incredibly rare biodiversity is increasingly being fragmented by human activities. To shine a spotlight on ongoing conservation efforts, Blue Ventures collected imagery of some of the island's most compelling scenery, including areas where effective conservation is increasingly critical to community livelihoods, climate change preparedness and for safeguarding biodiversity. 

Now you can visit the Mangrove ecosystems along the North coast as well as go sailing on a pirogue 40km into the Mozambique Channel to see the remote Barren Isles archipelago, the largest community-managed marine conservation area in the Indian Ocean.



Whether you want to explore the wild terrain of the island’s landscape or drift down the Sambirano river in a dug-out canoe, we invite you to virtually explore Madagascar’s spectacular biodiversity on Google Maps in clear resolution and detail. 

And if this Street View tour has inspired you to set foot on the the world’s oldest island in person, take a peek at Camp Catta adventure resort, where it seems paradise awaits you beneath the rainbow; or take a look at Velondriake, where you can help make meaningful contributions towards conservation in Madagascar through a Blue Ventures expedition.

Posted by Alex Starns, Street View Technical Program Manager

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The days are getting longer in Canada’s Arctic. The sea ice is breaking up, Arctic heather is poking through the snow-covered tundra and the arrival of the migratory snow bunting is days away. Summer is right around the corner. And today, in close collaboration with Parks Canada, we’re thrilled to share a glimpse of Canada’s Northern National Parks and the high north’s breathtaking summer season through the lens of Street View and Google Maps.

These are some of Canada’s most remote National Parks. In spite of challenges posed by this vast geography, the far north also presented a unique opportunity. For example, Ivvavik National Park looks as bright and sunny as midday. But Parks Canada operators were collecting this imagery close to midnight, taking advantage of the far north’s endless summer days.

Virtual visitors can marvel at the sweeping glaciers and dramatic fjords of Auyuittuq, discover the British Mountains and the Firth River Valley in Ivvavik, and immerse themselves in Tuktut Nogait’s stunning canyons and waterfalls along the rugged Brock River.

And, not to be missed, be sure to check out the spectacular towering peaks of the Torngat Mountains, the grandeur of Canada's only salt plains and take a Street View stroll in the historic Sweetgrass bison corrals of Wood Buffalo National Park – Canada’s largest national park.

Ivvavik National Park protects a portion of the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. Some of the imagery from Ivvavik was collected as late as 11pm.

From the Inuktitut word Torngait, meaning “place of spirits,” the Torngat Mountains have been home to Inuit and their predecessors for thousands of years.

Overlooking La Roncière Falls in Tuktut Nogait National Park and the Hornaday River’s awe-inspiring canyons and waterfalls.
Auyuittuq National Park images were gathered primarily from the water. The Street View Trekker was positioned on a boat which sailed along the park's coastline.

Since starting work together in 2013, Parks Canada and Google have collected imagery from over a hundred of Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas. Our work in the north, however, is not finished and we look forward to connecting Canadians and the world to more of our country’s majestic northern national parks in the near future.

In the meantime, enjoy a trip north on Google Maps... the Arctic summer sun is not going down on these amazing Street View images anytime soon.

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On April 27, 1994, Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa in the country’s first democratic, post-Apartheid election. Known now as “Freedom Day,” that date has become a symbol of hope in South Africa and around the world. To commemorate this historic day, we’ve partnered with the Robben Island Museum and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory to bring the story of this UNESCO World Heritage Site online for the world to explore. The Maps gallery and Cultural Institute online tour allow people everywhere to see the island where Nelson Mandela and many of South Africa’s freedom fighters were imprisoned during their quest for equality.

As a symbol of South Africa’s struggle for freedom, Robben Island has become a destination for people to connect with Mandela and other freedom fighters. Standing in Mandela’s 8 x 7 foot prison cell, it's hard to believe someone could spend 18 years here. Exploring the historical artifacts on the tour, you can also see photographs of his cell during the time of his imprisonment. You can imagine Mandela sitting at the cramped desk, surrounded by books and papers, working towards a future of freedom for all.



Robben Island was also where activist Robert Sobukwe was imprisoned, kept in solitary confinement for more than three years after taking a stand against the Pass Law, which required black citizens to carry an internal passport and severely limited their mobility. Exploring Sobukwe’s home on Robben Island, you can learn more about the man who didn’t let prison halt his attempts to make equality a reality. You can even view the pages of his notebook, which is still kept on his desk today.



In the new online exhibitions on the Cultural Institute platform, you can also listen to prisoners’ personal anecdotes about life at this infamous prison, including memories of where they were forced to work as well as how they studied and came together to create a unified vision for freedom in South Africa. You can see some personal items donated by former political prisoners, including a football trophy from the their FIFA-recognized league, hand-drawn table tennis awards, a treasured trumpet, and a duplicate master key fashioned by a prisoner from lead.



Once a symbol of the oppressive Apartheid regime, Robben Island is now a memorial and a reminder of the human spirit’s irrepressible search for freedom. We hope you’ll take a moment to step back in time to explore and be inspired by the island’s story of hope and humanity.