This September I was invited by Google Earth Outreach on behalf of Polar Bears International to be part of the Geo for Good User Summit. The 3-day workshop was intended for nonprofit mapping and technology specialists and was held at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. The daily sessions focused on Google Earth, Maps, Maps Engine and Earth Engine.

Day 1 consisted of registration, welcoming remarks and introductions to the Google mapping tools. It was eye opening to see all the tools Google had available for really advanced projects as well as seeing them already in action for some of the other non-profits.

Day 2 was more in-depth exploring advanced mapping and GIS possibilities with hands on break-out sessions. A tour of the Google campus and lunch at the cafeteria was also included. The campus is an amazing place, more like a university campus than a workplace. Some of the highlights included the herb garden, free laundry rooms, gym, infinity pools, sand volleyball courts, and a replica of SpaceShipOne.

Day 3 started with success stories from some of the attending non-profits and ended with one on one office hours. The talk Jake Wall from Save the Elephants gave on using Google Earth to not only track Elephants but to identify unusual behavior was particularly interesting. He outlined how scripting inside Google Earth could show if an Elephant suddenly stopped moving or was unable to move freely and they could use that up to the minute data to potentially stop poachers in the act. The office hours gave me a good opportunity to ask advanced questions and explain a limitation I had found with Google Maps.

I’d like to thank Polar Bears International for sponsoring me on this once in a lifetime trip and Google for extending the invitation. I’m hoping to put everything i’ve learned to great use.