Today was the first day of the Local Guides 2016 Summit (#LGSummit16 on Twitter and G+). We started out pretty early to try and beat the traffic down to Mountain View, where we spent the entire day on the main campus of Google. After eating a light breakfast at the hotel, we piled in the bus around 7:30AM local time to drive down.
Once we arrived at campus (yup, we hit some traffic on the 101), we were ushered into a large meeting room with some sweet Google signs and a massive wall graphic for the summit. After grabbing some coffee, we made our way to our seats and got ready for some presentations.
We started off (after some housekeeping introductions) with Jen Fitzpatrick, the VP of Google Geo Group. She has been at Google since 1999 (I believe she was the first female engineer?) and is very passionate about the mapping products that Google has to offer. She actually co-founded the UX group at Google! She had an engaging talk (that I filmed on the Theta) about the Local Guides group and the great stuff the community is doing.
After Jen spoke, we had a panel fireside chat about the user generated content on Google Maps and some plans for the future. We got to hear an Engineer and Product Manager on the Maps product, as well as the community side of Maps (read: Local Guides). The chat with Laura, John, Christina, Dylan, and Mara was really awesome and we got to see how some of the logic behind the maps product is figured out.
After the panel, we got to hear from one of the creators of Street View as we know it today. Daniel Filip started at Google in 2007 and was originally tasked with creating 360 “photospheres” for the Street View project (back then, it was just a panoramic picture on both sides of the street). He led the team creating the custom cameras that eventually would be strapped on top of cars around the world. One of the parts of that talk I enjoyed the most was about the future of photospheres (it’s one form of photography that I really enjoy doing- it requires more skill than you think).
Our last talk of the morning was with Rebecca Moore around Google Maps for good. She used an example of an indigenous tribe in the Amazon that was getting threatened by legal and illegal logging operations and needed to figure out a way to protect their land (they didn’t have contact with the outside world till 1969). By leveraging Google Maps and the underlying API to tap into years of data, they were able to find areas where illegal logging was happening. It was a really cool story and the ability to see decades of pictures in a timelapse format really showcases how the earth is changing.
We then headed over to building 40 to have lunch at one of the core Google buildings. Shortly after, we wandered over to the Google company store (which is now open to the public in a new location), which was next to where they moved all of the android statues (they are no longer in front of the “Android” building). After spending an embarrassing amount of money there (I’m bringing back a LOT of swag apparently), we hopped back on buses to head back to where we were in the morning.
We had a couple of breakout sessions which I can’t talk about due to NDA (sorry!). After those sessions, we had a BBQ in the common area they out outside of those buildings. We got to relax and talk to various Google team members (as well as each other) before we got on the bus again to head back to our hotel. I’m now pulling footage off of the Theta and uploading to YouTube (man, a ton of new things this week). Today has been a whirlwind, but a VERY fun whirlwind. Can’t wait for tomorrow!