Cartography for All

Exploring the world in a new way

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Experience the stories in 3D with the Google Earth plugin

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Google Earth reaches 1 billion downloads

How large is one billion? One billion hours ago modern humans were living in the Stone Age. One billion minutes ago, the Roman Empire was flourishing. If you traveled from Earth to the Moon three times, your journey would measure one billion meters.

We're proud of our "one billion" milestone, but we're even more proud of the work that individuals and organizations have achieved over the years. When Keyhole, Inc. launched the Earth Viewer application back in 2001, John Hanke and Brian McClendon, two of Keyhole’s founders, never imagined it would be used in such innovative ways by educators, scientific researchers, activists, and everyday enthusiasts. Keyhole, Inc. was acquired by Google in 2004 and Google Earth was launched the following year.

McClendon reflects on the launch of Google Earth and the shift from primarily enterprise users to the consumer market. "There was a time when explorers spent and risked their lives in search of new geographic discoveries. When we launched Google Earth, we made geographic discovery accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Armchair adventurers have made significant discoveries using this tool and can claim to be explorers in their own right."

Explore research, follow environmental protection efforts, view Panoramio photos and more in the "layers" left hand panel in Google Earth.

"The breadth of stories and discoveries over the last six years inspires us to keep making the product better. We look forward to seeing what comes out of the next billion downloads." -- Brian McClendon, Keyhole founder and Google VP of Engineering

With your help, Google Earth has truly changed the way we engage with the world. Your creativity has helped democratize mapping, spread new views of our planet and enabled the exchange stories of all kinds across the globe. You've used Google Earth to explore, to challenge, to enable and enlighten. You've applied it in countless contexts beyond cartography, including cultural preservation, academic discovery, education, environmental protection, humanitarian missions, travel, government, community development and more.

McClendon, now VP of Engineering at Google, looks forward to seeing what the next billion downloads brings. He sees geospatial technology as "not just a tool for those in cartography. It's now a part of our culture to engage deeply with the world around us in a multitude of ways. Using Google Earth and Google Maps is a way to contextualize our surroundings and create a richer view of our place in the world."

Learn why geography matters from leaders in different industries all over the world.