Updating Voyager on Google Earth

Main screen for new Google Earth
Client:   Google - Earth Outreach Team

Google Earth is a globally familiar destination for learning about any place on the planet. The Google Earth team launched a new version of the application on Earth Day 2017 and since January 2017, GreenInfo has been working closely with the Google Earth Outreach team to develop a wide range of spatial stories leading up to the launch and continuing after.  As longtime users of the the Earth application (even before it was acquired by Google), we were thrilled to help move it into its next incarnation.

For many users, Google Earth is a way to view the landscape of any place on the globe, and to bring in data to overlay on that landscape for viewing by others. The Outreach Team at Google Earth has worked with GreenInfo for many years, as we've helped others put the application to good use. In early 2017, that team asked us to work with them on the new product, to help them and their other nonprofit partners tell stories about wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources all over the globe.

This story-telling element of Google Earth is called Voyager — a system for guiding a user through a curated tour of places with particular features. Our early work had us developing stories ranging from  the history of Jane Goodall’s work in Africa to a deep dive into the Gulf of California with Sylvia Earle to a round-the-world tour of endangered species and even StreetView scenes of sharks (who would have thought?). We've continued work on Amazon stories, and many more, each of which are published through the Voyager portal in Google Earth.

The new stories build on older Earth capacities, but now bring in video, text, photo carousels, and StreetView, all with more modern styling.

GreenInfo staff were trained in how to used the Google system for producing these stories from database templates, a relatively complex process involving coding, careful choice of viewpoints to illustrate points in the stories, and lots of troubleshooting to make sure the stories present effectively.

Over the course of 2017, we developed nearly 50 Voyager stories, and presented on the work at Google's Geo for Good 2017 conference. In 2018, the Voyager feature won four Webby Awards for innovative user experience.

Results: The overall Voyager project won four Webby Awards in 2018.

Focus:   Conservation, Environment  

Services:  Interactive Solutions, Applications Development 

Tags:   Google Earth  

Project Years: 2017

GreenInfo Network creates, analyzes, visualizes and communicates information in the public interest. We specialize in mapping and related technology for nonprofits and public agencies, focusing on using it for conservation, social equity, public health, environment and foundation grant making.
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