Why maps matter: Using digital cartography tools to change the world

Friday, March 30, 2012 at 9:30 AM


People have created maps since early civilization, but only recently have digital mapping tools like Google Earth and Maps made it easy to build sophisticated and interactive maps that can be disseminated to hundreds of millions of people online. Non-profits have taken advantage of these tools to create maps that matter, and that are truly initiating change around the world. That’s why my team, Google Earth Outreach, exists: to help public benefit organizations use Google’s mapping tools for good.


Find out how non-profits are changing the world with maps.

There’s no better inspiration for creating your own map than the stories of accomplishment from organizations like the ones featured in the video above. We invite you to check out the new Success Stories section of the Google Earth Outreach website. Along with a completely new look and feel, our website now allows you to learn all about a variety of organizations that are using maps for good.

Get started by reading about how the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation partnered with Google to collect Street View imagery for the Amazon. It’s now possible to virtually float down the Rio Negro and its tributaries, see ground-level images of riverside communities, and trek down a trail into the Amazon rainforest, all without leaving the comfort of home. You’ll also learn about Architecture for Humanity, an organization using Google SketchUp to design architectural solutions for communities in need.

Collecting Street View imagery in the Amazon

Once you’ve read through the stories and have an idea of what you might like to create, you can browse through our tutorials or request a software grant for our enterprise-level products like Google Earth Pro. Or, if you’re interested in an overview of all the tools available to you from Google, feel free to check out our Explore Tools page, where you’ll find information about the many Google mapping tools (both free and Pro) that are available to non-profits.

If you’re looking for additional training beyond the tutorials, check out our new Events page, where you can see where Google Earth Outreach will be next and where we’ve been in the past, including rich resources from past workshops.

If you want to change the world, we hope these new tools help. Happy mapping!