Google Earth Blog
Here’s a fun use of Google Earth and GPS — tracking cats. It started when Tiana Warner at safe.com found out about a way to track cats:
Where do cats go when they’re outside all day and night? What do they do? How do they entertain themselves? Is there a secret cat meeting place in every major city? When Safers found out about Cat Tracker, we couldn’t resist.
The result is pretty neat.
While it’s mostly a fun little project, the technology behind it is remarkably complex. Get the GPS data from Movebank in JSON format, flatten it, create a “convex hull” around the main area, clean up GPS anomalies, rank the cats based on travel area sizes, then push it out via KML. Here is a KML file to view it for yourself in Google Earth.
You can read more on the Safe Software Blog.
Back in 2005 Julian Bayliss, a biologist at London’s Kew Gardens, discovered a brand new rainforest that had previously never been studied — and he found it using Google Earth. We told you about it in May this year, and you can watch a short video about the discovery below.
Since then, many new species have been discovered at the location, known as Mozambique’s ‘sky islands’, including a snake, a butterfly, and most recently, the recent discovery of four new pygmy chameleon species.
Rhampholeon nebulauctor. Credit: Julian Bayliss.
Rhampholeon tilburyi. Credit: Krystal A. Tolley.
Rampholeon Maspictus. Credit: William R. Branch.
Rhampholeon Bruessoworum. Credit: Julian Bayliss.
Find the full story on Fauna & Flora International.
The post Google Earth instrumental in discovery of new chameleon species appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
We have told you in the past about various news stories reporting apparent alien activity in Google Earth imagery. For example, this story, where sonar tracks from ships were mistaken for an underwater alien base. Or this story where a combination of lighting and image artifacts makes a crater on the moon look like an alien space ship. And, then, there was the secret Mars base. Which, again, is most likely just a result of image artifacts making an ordinary geographical feature look suspiciously regular.
The latest such story comes from a YouTube video posted by YouTuber wowforreeel which has gained over five million views in under a month. It features this image, which at first glance appears to be a human shaped object and its shadow.
However, a quick look at the scale bar at the bottom left reveals that the figure, if real, would have to be hundreds of feet high. So, instead of a human, it would be more like a Colossus as suggested by this article.
A careful look at the surrounding craters reveals that the light in the image is coming from near the bottom of the image and so the apparent shadow is in the wrong direction.
This article on pix11.com quotes a NASA scientist Noah Petro, as saying:
My best guess,” Petro said in a statement to PIX11, “is that it’s something (dust, an eyelash, scratch on the negative) that was on the film. Remember, this was in the pre-digital days when all sorts of nasty things could happen to film.”
So, as with the previous stories, the explanation has to do with how the images were acquired rather than an actual feature on the Moon, but it’s an interesting find nevertheless.
If you wish to see it in Google Earth for yourself, switch to Moon view, and enter these co-ordinates 27°34’26.35″N 19°36’4.75″W in the search box, or you can simply use this KML file to fly to it directly in Google Earth.
The Google Earth Blog was started in 2005, by Frank Taylor (that’s me), shortly after Google first released Google Earth. I wrote hundreds of blog posts during the next 4.5 years until my wife and I departed on a 5+ year expedition, called the Tahina Expedition, to circumnavigate the Earth by sailboat on our catamaran Tahina. Since I would not be able to maintain the work for blogging Google Earth Blog (GEB), I was lucky to hire on Mickey Mellen to continue writing.
For more than 4.5 years since that time, Mickey Mellen has done a fantastic job of continuing the GEB tradition. I have been thrilled with the way he has maintained the GEB and helped our readers learn about the many features, news, and types of content available for Google Earth. Meanwhile, my wife and I have sailed two thirds of the way around the world and are nearly across the Indian Ocean expecting to get back to the US next year. As mentioned at the start of August, Mickey is a partner in a growing web development agency (called GreenMellen Media) and he gave me plenty of time to find a new writer. I wish Mickey the best of luck with his venture, and greatly appreciate his professional help during the past nearly 5 years, and with the transition to our next writer.
Today, we have a new writer for the GEB who has been using Google Earth since the early days – back when it was called Keyhole at the time Google bought the company and made it into Google Earth. Timothy Whitehead lives in Cape Town, South Africa, but originally comes from Zambia. He is a software developer who has used Google Earth for some of his projects (which maybe he can tell you about in some future post). Timothy is eager to share his enthusiasm for Google Earth on this blog during at least the next year while my wife and I finish our circumnavigation.
Please thank Mickey for his great job! And please welcome Timothy to Google Earth Blog!
Google Earth can be great for planning trips of any kind, including those by boat. More than seven years ago Frank was showing us 3D cruise ship tracking, and there have been other great cruising resources over the years. Of course, there is also the great tools that Frank is using as he sails around the world aboard the Tahina.
Doug Logan recently wrote an article on Boat Trader that shows some great ways to use Google Earth to help plan your next trip. As Doug says:
…it’s hard to beat sitting at my desk with a big monitor, loading up Google Earth, and plotting a complete cruise with the best satellite imagery in the civilian world and really simple, intuitive screen tools. For free.
The techniques that Doug uses aren’t overly complex or unique, but they’re a solid example of how you can use the native tools in Google Earth to help plan what you need to do.
Be sure to check out this full article on Boat Trader. Good work Doug!
Since the early days of Google Earth, people have looked for ways to use it to enhance real estate searches and information. You can go all the way back to 2005 to see an example that Frank posted, and it was just a month ago that we showed you some great tools from Jason Fox.
There is a company called CityRealty that is doing some interesting things with Google Earth that we thought we’d take a look at. By using Google Earth’s 3D imagery, then laying information and photos on top of it, you end up with a pretty slick way to view a city.
It’s not as interactive as I’d like to see (you can click around the map, but the imagery is static), but it’s a great way to show off a city.
In their press release, Daniel Levy, President of CityRealty, explained the new site as follows:
“Looking for an apartment in New York City can be daunting, and our new site is designed to turn the housing search in the most complex real estate market in the world into a simple, streamlined experience for those looking to make New York home. It’s our hope that our new and improved online resources, coupled with our tailored agent recommendations, will seamlessly guide customers from the start of the search to the moment they get their keys.”
DigitalGlobe, one of the leading providers of imagery for Google Earth, is launching their new WorldView-3 satellite in a few hours. It is scheduled to launch at 11:29am PDT today from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and you can watch a live broadcast of the launch here.
The new satellite will feature some great enhancements over previous ones, including:
- Will capture imagery at 31 cm resolution, the highest available resolution on the market. This allows you to see not only a car, but the windshield and the direction the car is going. Something as small as home plate can be seen with 31 cm resolution.
- Due to its shortwave infrared sensor, the satellite can actually image through haze, fog, dust, smoke and other air-born particulates.
- Beyond crop mapping, this satellite will actually be able to identify moisture levels, differentiate between healthy and unhealthy crops, and even classify species on the ground.
- The satellite can identify types of minerals on the earth’s surface
- It can identify not only a tree’s class and species, but its health as well
It should be a great step forward for imaging, and ultimately for Google Earth. Check out the infographic below for an overview of the satellite, visit worldview3.digitalglobe.com for more information, and watch the launch live in a few hours.
The post DigitalGlobe launching their WorldView-3 satellite today appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
We’ve shown you a lot from George at MyReadingMapped over the years, and he’s back with another one. This project is called the “Google Map of Geology”, and George describes it as follows:
My latest project is a Google Map of Geology which matches up examples of faults, eskers, monadnocks, folds, fabric, depressions, roof pendants, rift valley, kettles, hoodoos, and the like, that can be seen in Google Map and Google Earth with their geologic terminology. I was surprised to discover that much of the details like stratum, joints, lava field fissures, dykes, talus, etc. can actually be seen in a satellite image and that a specific rock the size of a tor can be plotted.
Nice work, George!
With the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I occurring a few weeks ago, I expect we’ll see various recreations of events from the war in Google Earth as those individual 100 year anniversaries approach.
The first example of this I’ve seen comes from Bart Busschots. A few days ago marked the 100th anniversary of the German invasion of his native Belgium, and he’s created a map to show a bit about what happened.
From Bart’s site:
The first major battle of the campaign was centred on the ancient town and prince-bishopric of Liège in the north-east of the country. The Battle of Liège lasted from the 5th to the 16th of August 1914, and centred on the ring of 12 fortifications surrounding the town. Remains of all of these fortifications remain in the landscape, and can be clearly seen on satellite images. When reading about the battle I found myself wanting to better understand the geography of the region, and where the forts fit into the landscape, so I mapped their locations on Google Earth and saved them out as a KML file.
We have discussed the amazing work that Google Earth Outreach does quite a few times on here, and they continue to assist with amazing projects around the world.
They recently released a video that showcases some of the work that they’ve done with nonprofit organizations in Canada. Check it out:
The organizations involved in this include:
- “Caribou Migration,” by Golder Associates Ltd & Hugh Stimson
- “I Am Fish,” by the David Suzuki Foundation
- “Canada’s Boreal, the World’s Largest Intact Forest,” by Pew Environment Group
- “Voices on the Land,” by Okanagan Nation Alliance, Gregory Kehm Associates & Ecotrust Canada
- “Oil & Water Map,” by the Living Oceans Society
- “Natural Capital,” by the David Suzuki Foundation
For more, check out the official Google Earth Outreach website.
(via +Google for Nonprofits)
In British Columbia there is a proposal to build a new dam at “Site C” to help generate affordable clean energy to the region. It sounds like a wonderful idea, but with any project of this size there are certainly downsides to consider as well. In particular, according to this report(PDF):
The District of Hudson’s Hope, a community of 1,100 people in the heart of the Peace River Valley, will be impacted more than any other municipality by the proposed Site C dam.
The video below explores the project, hears from involved parties, and makes great use of Google Earth to add context to the area and some rough looks at what the result of the dam would look like.
Details on the project can be found at hudsonshope.ca, though their short-term focus (understandably) has shifted to wildfires in the area. You can also view this PDF or this article on Common Sense Canadian to learn more.
The post Exploring the possibilities of a new dam using Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Ian Brown at Google Sightseeing recently posted a great blog entry that took a look at the ten tallest statues in the world. Most of the statues are of Buddha or Guanyin, many located in China.
While Ian shows great aerial and Street View imagery for each of them, most of them can be viewed in 3D. The quality of the 3D models varies wildly from statue to statue, but some look pretty nice as seen here:
It’s a fun subject to look at, and Ian makes it easy to find them yourself by providing this KML file so that you can quickly fly to each of them in Google Earth.
Be sure check out the full post to see more.
Great post, Ian!
A few months ago we showed you some great maps that showed the spread of Ebola and MERS, but given the continued spread of Ebola we felt it’d be a good time to dig into them again.
If you find any other useful maps, please leave a comment and let us know.
Many people are gearing up the end of summer break and the start of school. In fact, our daughters will be heading out for their first day of school in a few hours, as will thousands of others from Kindergarten to College.
Google Earth is not only a great tool for geography – it is a tool for tying all kinds of information to location. When you first load GE you have a wealth of information available at your fingertips. Thousands of aerial and satellite photos, dozens of layers of information: city names, country borders, airport locations, road maps, National Geographic content, volcanoes, and more. Since Google Earth is an intuitive and fun tool, I believe you could use it as a visualization and educational tool for almost any subject. Once students prepare their own content, GE can be used to present their work – or even share their work with the world.
If you’re heading off to a new university this fall, you can check to see if Google has released Street View imagery for that school yet so you can explore the campus. The Official Google Blog has a list of other great ways to use Google products to help with your studies this year.
If you’re heading back to school soon, we wish you great success in the upcoming year!
Frank Taylor here, still the publisher for Google Earth Blog. Five years ago I was deep in preparation for a 5+ year sailing expedition around the world, documenting the trip using Google Earth and other Google tools. So, I needed to recruit someone to help write the Google Earth Blog (GEB). I was very fortunate I already knew the perfect candidate, Mickey Mellen, and he enthusiastically took on the job. Mickey has done a fantastic job of continuing the GEB for nearly 5 years, and I couldn’t have been happier with his work. Fortunately for him, he also has an Internet services business that is taking off now. Unfortunately, this means he has to focus on the growing business and doesn’t have the time to continue writing the GEB.
We are 75% of the way around the world on our sailing expedition, but won’t be finishing the trip sooner than June of next year. So, the GEB needs a new writer for at least that long.
Here are the skills needed to be the primary writer of GEB (in order of priority):
- Google Earth enthusiast and expert user, english speaking/writing
- Familiarity with this blog and its content
- Willingness to respond to readers who ask for assistance, at least to refer them to proper sources of information
- Ability to grasp and write about the broad range of technologies using, or used by, Google Earth (GIS, science, 3D graphics, satellites, aerial photography, 3D modeling, etc.)
- Experience with blog writing, blogging tools and image processing helps
- US-based preferred
- Someone I know already a plus
- Willingness to improve GEB content quality a plus
- Ability to produce video demonstrations of Google Earth a plus
The writer will be paid based on a percentage of the revenues generated by ads on the web site. Please send me an E-mail (address at the bottom of this page) if you would like to apply. In your e-mail, present a case why you think you would be a good candidate for the job. Do not apply if you expect to be able to use GEB as an advertising platform for other products or services. Only apply if you think you can write the same kind of material as already appears in GEB. Links to your similar writings recommended.
We saw some great new Google Earth-related stories in July, and here are some of my favorites.
With the death of Louis Zamperini, we showed you a full timeline of events from his life.
We looked at some of the differences between Google Earth and Google Maps.
We found ways to explore earthquake fault lines using Google Earth.
We took a look at the great new 3d imagery in London.
We showed you some ways that people are using Google Earth to learn more about what happened with Flight MH17.
On the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, we showed you some excellent visualizations from Erik Hellstedt.
We showed you how DigitalGlobe is helping to track forest fires in southeast Asia.
What was your favorite story from July?
DigitalGlobe is one of the leading providers of satellite imagery for Google Earth, and now they’re teaming up with the World Resources Institute to track fires across southeast Asia via their new Global Forest Watch Fires system.
From an article by Yuchen Wu in the Boulder County Business Report:
Nigel Sizer, global director of the World Resource Institute’s Forests Program, said, “With DigitalGlobe’s imagery, you can see down to the individual tree level and even identify species. DigitalGlobe imagery is processed as color-infrared, enabling WRI to quickly distinguish between healthy and dead vegetation, draw burn area boundaries, and detect burn scars in order to assign accountability to the fires.”
It’s a great way to use DigitalGlobe’s impressive ability to capture imagery to make a difference in the world.
You can read more in that article in the Boulder County Business Report or visit fires.globalforestwatch.org.
Most of you have heard about Google’s issues with Street View card and wi-fi sniffing. Regardless your thoughts on that, you’re bound to appreciate what the cars are now able to sniff: gas leaks.
According to an article by Trevor Mogg on Digital Trends, Google is beginning to test out cars that include methane sensors to check for gas leaks.
From the article:
The initiative turned up “thousands” of leaks from utility pipes beneath the streets, providing officials with data on pollution “that used to be invisible,” EDF’s Fred Krupp wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
Fortunately these leaks don’t pose any immediate threat to safety, and the utilities will monitor and deal with the more serious ones. However, EDF noted that such gas “has a powerful effect on the global climate, packing up to 120 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.”
Here is an early map that has been generated by this new data:
It’s a great idea, and hopefully it will be added to additional cars over time. There’s seemingly quite a few other pieces of data that could be useful to measure when you have an army of GPS-tracked cars driving around; weather data, road quality, etc. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes in the future.
Be sure to check out the full article on the Digital Trends website.
Urban agriculture can be a great thing, but can be difficult to effectively plan and manage. Flavio Lupia, along with other researchers from the National Institute of Agricultural Economics in Rome have been making great use of digital mapping tools to help research and plan ideal locations around the city.
You can read more about their work in this PDF document, which goes into detail about their work, such as:
The current version of the database contains more than 4,000 polygons spread over a total surface of about 35,000 hectares with a total farmed area of 400 hectares. The geodatabase was realized by interpreting the high resolution images of Google Earth for the year 2007 and 2013 allowing further analysis on the temporal evolution of the phenomenon.
Beyond that, here are some additional thoughts from Flavio:
- Despite in Italy there are some private and governamental bodies producing regularly very high resolution aerophotogrammetric scenes the restriction and policy distribution of the data don’t allow researchers to perform this kind of analysis.
- Although in Italy, especially during the last year, the concept of open-data is becoming more and more common this is still a theoretical idea since public administrations have releases very few geospatial data.
- GE allows to perform the photointerpretation process, the digitalization and the multi-temporal analysis with an easy to use single tool.
- The entire mapping project employed only human resources (researcher for the photointerpretation), no costs for tools and images acquisition and pre-processing thanks to GE.
- Even if the radiometric and spatial resolution of the GE imagery are lower than those provided by the Italian public bodies, the researchers demonstrated the fitness-for-use of GE for mapping urban agriculture. The images are sufficient to discover cultivated parcels as small as 8 square meters in size and allow to photointerpreters to use all visual element to identify cropping activities (tone, color, texture, pattern, etc.).
- Since 2011 GSV report the timestamp in the GE status bar. This helped researchers to have a clear idea about the acquisition time during the “virtual field check”. Nonetheless some limitations in the usability of GSV exist: 1.the temporal mismatch between GE imagery used for parcels identification (year 2013) and GSV (2011-2012). 2.the temporal variation among the single images of GSV, in fact scenes acquired in different times are woven together to form a continuous coverage along the streets (in our study area we found GSV images acquired in 2011 and 2012).
It’s an excellent use of Google Earth, and it should help result in great things for the city of Rome.
The post Using Google Earth to enhance urban agriculture in Rome appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, and Erik Hellstedt at Geo-Animate.com has built an excellent visualization of the early stages of the war.
In Erik’s words:
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. Within a week, the world’s great powers had mobilized and begun sending their armies to the frontiers. This GE animation begins August 1st and follows the daily movements of each army’s units through October 31st, by which time a near-continuous belt of trenches along this Western Front prevented any significant movement for nearly four years. At the end of this War of Movement animation, there were already millions of war casualties and countless shattered communities.
He’s continuing to develop the project, but what he has completed so far is extraordinary. Check it out for yourself at www.geo-animate.com/War-of-Movement.
Great work, Erik!