Introducing Google Earth Outreach – New Global Awareness Layers

Today Google has announced a new initiative called Google Earth Outreach designed to help nonprofit organizations around the world leverage the power of Google Earth to illustrate and advocate for the important work that they do. The announcement was made at the New York City Google office by Elliot Schrage, Google Vice President for Global Communications & Public Affairs, and John Hanke, Director of Google Earth & Maps. The initial Outreach partners include: Jane Goodall, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute; Kathy Bushkin Calvin, Executive Vice President, United Nations Foundation; and Edward Wilson, President and CEO, Earthwatch.
Google Earth Outreach enables any organization to quickly and easily get the resources it needs to create compelling stories through Google Earth layers. The program includes comprehensive online guides, video tutorials, and case studies about using Google Earth specifically targeted to the needs of nonprofit organizations. In addition, there are online forums connecting new participants to Global Awareness partners and experienced programmers who can assist in developing Keyhole Markup Language (KML) layers for Google Earth. These forums, actively moderated by Google Earth Outreach staff, serve to foster discussion and cooperation among organizations and the broader Google Earth community. More information is available from the new Google Earth Outreach web page.
Jane Goodall has already leveraged Google Earth for the Jane Goodall Institute’s pioneering geoblog called the Gombe Chimpanzee Blog. The blog documents the activities at the Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania, site of the longest-running field study of wild chimpanzee. Every post at the blog is geotagged and viewable through Google Earth – as well as other helpful information about the site. Google began highlighting the Chimpanzee layer as a “Featured Content” layer last fall. Being featured in this way draws a lot of attention because of the huge world-wide audience available with over 200 million people having installed Google Earth. This kind of exposure helps any organization get more attention for their efforts.

Other example non-profit layers along these lines have included the Crisis in Darfur layer, the UNEP environmental layer, the Mountaintop removal memorial, the World Wildlife Fund, and several others.
As part of today’s Google Earth Outreach announcement, Google also published three new Global Awareness layers from their new Outreach partners (open the Global Awareness layer under the Layers pane on the lower left inside Google Earth). Here are the details about the new layers from today’s press release:

  • Global Heritage Fund (GHF) – The GHF Global Awareness layer explores cultural heritage sites around the world that GHF is working to preserve for future generations. From ancient Mayan Mirador pyramids buried in Guatemalan forests threatened by clear cutting to the crumbling Lijiang Ancient Town in China, GHF takes users to these endangered archaeological treasures of human civilization and details the efforts to save them in partnership with local governments and resources.

  • Earthwatch Expeditions – The Earthwatch Global Awareness layer enables users to virtually visit more than 100 volunteer Earthwatch expeditions in Google Earth— from recording the
    activities of lemurs in Madagascar to determining the impact of climate change on grey whale populations in Mexico and Canada. Enthusiasts and would-be volunteers can explore scientific field
    research projects in progress around the world and learn how they can help collect field data in the areas of rainforest ecology, wildlife conservation, marine science, archaeology, and more.

  • Fair Trade Certified – The TransFair USA layer introduces users to the over 70 Fair Trade Co-ops located throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa. Fair trade is an innovative market-based approach to sustainable development that helps family farmers in developing countries gain direct access to markets and develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Sweet. That’s all I have to say. Sweet.


  3. How can a non-profit apply to have other issues like housing the poor be included in the global awareness layering projects? Would be grateful to get your advise?

  4. My question is the same as the one above, ie. how a non-profit goes about being included in the global awareness layer. does it require a partnership with Google?

  5. If your organization has a compelling KML layer which would be of global interest, then you should try contacting the Google Earth Outreach team to see if they are interested.
    Google has dozens of such requests in process at any given time. Only a very few get selected for the layer. You can also submit your layer to the Outreach Showcase to gain visibility:

  6. Adam Smith says

    I wish I could remove this enviroleftist layer entirely.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.