Google Earth Blog
It’s somewhat surprising to me that after all the years that Google Earth Blog has been around, we’ve never seen a file that focuses on the plate tectonics of earth. We’ve discussed various earthquakes numerous times, but never simply the plate tectonics. Thankfully, George at MyReadingMapped has built an excellent map that gives a great overview of the topography of plate tectonics.
From his site:
This documentary, in the form of a Google Map, attempts to put some real world topography to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Plate Tectonic map shown below that is featured on Wikipedia’s Plate Tectonics page. With the above Google map you can see the actual land and submarine topography that form the various tectonic plates. You can see the mid ocean ridges, ocean trenches, submarine volcanoes, and thermal vents that form the edges of the plates rather than rely on an abstract map like that shown below.
For more information, check out the full blog entry on MyReadingMapped. Great work George!
We continue to receive many emails each week asking how to correct map errors in Google Earth (address in the wrong location, point of interest is missing, etc), so I thought it’d be worth revisiting that.
To start, you don’t actually fix the errors in Google Earth; you fix them in Google Maps, and those corrections are synced into Google Earth over the course of a few weeks. The process has changed slightly in the new Google Maps, so here’s how it works.
To suggest a correction, click on the small question mark in the lower right corner of the screen inside of Google Maps and choose “Report a data problem”.
Next, click on the map to show Google the exact location with the problem.
After that, the window in the upper left corner of Google Maps will ask for details, based on the type of object you just clicked. For example, if you clicked on a road Google will ask you questions related to roads (“doesn’t exist”, “one-way/two-way is incorrect”, etc). If you click on a business, it will ask you questions related to the business.
I’ve suggested quite a few edits to my local area, and all have been accepted into Google Earth/Maps and helped make my town more accurate. I’ve updated street names, new roads, closed restaurants, etc. I’m a heavy user of the GPS navigation features on Google Maps for my Android phone, so having an accurate map is very important.
The “report a problem” feature is a great tool to help make Google products more accurate for everyone. To learn more about how this process works, you can visit this page in the Google Maps support system.
While it no longer has the close connection to Google Earth that it once did, we know that many of you remain avid SketchUp fans and will be pleased to learned that SketchUp 2014 has been released. Along with the new version of SketchUp is a completely revamped 3D Warehouse.
There are quite a few enhancements to the main SketchUp product, including tweaks to the core SketchUp modeler and an updated API. For the 3D Warehouse, one of the best new features is a way to easily embed visuals of your 3D models via their new WebGL Viewer. As an example, the following embedded model should be fully 3D for most of you.
All in all, it’s some great enhancements to an already excellent program. Learn more over at the SketchUpdate Blog.
The post SketchUp 2014 and a refreshed 3D Warehouse released appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
February saw some great stories related to Google Earth. Here are my favorites from the month:
The folks at DataAppeal put out some more great updates to their product.
We saw some great maps of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Tony showed us some ways to use Google Earth to help improve your golf game.
We learned about some ways that teachers are using Google Earth to teach math.
Ben showed us a great tip for photographers using the “Sun” option in Google Earth to anticipate lighting conditions for a photo shoot.
The University of East Anglia Climate Research unveiled a new tool to help you view global warming trends.
John showed us some neat tricks to display bar charts from FileMaker in Google Earth
We took an early look at some of the new satellites that will be capturing Google Earth imagery in the future.
Google began pushing out the new version of Google Maps for everyone.
We saw how David was using Google Earth to help earn more donations by allowing you to track your shark in Google Earth.
What was your favorite story from February?
Google has just launched the Google Maps Gallery to help “unlock the world’s maps”. It’s an impressive collection of maps of various kinds, easily accessible in one place.
The maps all have a “View in Google Earth” button to generate a KML for your use, and some of them (such as this Tokyo 1680 map) have slick transparency sliders to make them more useful. As Keir Clarke at Google Maps Mania points out, the maps are all embeddable as well and makes it somewhat like a “YouTube for maps”.
There are some great maps in there and I strongly encourage you to check it out. You can browse them all at maps.google.com/gallery/ or read more about it over on this post on the Google LatLong Blog.
The post Google releases the Google Maps Gallery, with solid support for Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
A recent article at Popular Mechanics discusses some great ways to share your hikes with your friends via Google Earth, and they include some great tips.
To start of course, they recommend that you carry a handheld GPS unit. You can also use various apps on your cell phone, but because the big battery drain of GPS-related apps, be sure you have enough battery power to make it through the hike. When you finish the hike, upload the resulting file to Google Earth, mark it up with other placemarks and photos, then export the file as a KMZ to share with your friends.
You can also use apps such as Everytrail, which makes great use of Google Earth Tours, to share your adventures.
Lastly, be sure to check out some of the great ways you can use the Google Earth ruler. You can use it before your hike to estimate distances, or afterwards to see how far you went.
What are your favorite tips for using Google Earth to supplement your hiking?
David Shiffman at Southern Fried Science has come up with a very innovative way to attract donations to shark feeding ecology project. If you make a donation of over $3,000, you will be able to name the shark and track it in Google Earth for up to two years!
Their project has raised over $6000 so far (more than double their original goal), so it seems to be in good shape. From the project website:
We will be using a non-lethal research technique called stable isotope analysis to help understand the diet and food web interactions of several species of sharks in coastal South Florida, information that will help fisheries and wildlife managers to better conserve and protect them!
You can read more about this project over on the Southern Fried Science website.
[Update: Google's Brian McClendon (who leads the Google Earth, Maps, Street View and other related products) has publicly stated (on the 3rd of March, 2014) that Google plans to continue supporting Google Earth and KML. Good news!]
(This post is by Frank Taylor, publisher and founder of the Google Earth Blog (GEB). For the past 4+ years I have been traveling around the world on a sailboat called Tahina and documenting our experiences with Google Earth and other mapping and photography tools from Google. You can view and follow these experiences at TahinaExpedition.com. During my travels, I asked my friend, and fellow Google Earth fan, Mickey Mellen to keep the Google Earth Blog going. I think he’s been doing a great job!)
It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post on GEB. But, I have been following both the blog and Google Earth closely. I had intended to do more writing during the past year, but frankly I’ve been seeing some rather negative signs in Google’s mapping technology and have been reluctant to mention them waiting for more positive news. Unfortunately, the trends just seem to keep getting worse.
Before I dwell on the negative news, let me just say that I still believe that Google Earth continues to serve as an invaluable tool for visualizing the Earth (and other planets) and for creating and sharing maps and other content. The content and the visualization capabilities are still amazing. I’m still a huge fan, I just wish that Google would continue to devote itself to pushing the technology forward.
Google’s pace of development for new Google Earth technology has been dropping. For a long time, many of us who follow the technology have suspected Google would continue to migrate features into the Google Maps platform. However, despite the recent release of the “new” Google Maps for desktop, the news continues to get worse. Maybe Google is developing something new in the Google Earth vein, but, if so, they have been very quiet about it.
Here are some things to note about Google Maps and Earth developments:
1) Google Earth on the desktop has not seen a major new release since February of 2009 when Google release version 5.0. Version 5 introduced major new features such as Historical Imagery, the Mars mode, new 3D terrain, the ability to record tours, and a host of new support features for developers. All the versions for Google Earth on the desktop since that time have only added a few new features, interface tweaks, and bug fixes. No new major push for improving the technology or adding new capabilities. During this time, development focus seemed to be on the mobile mapping platforms (more on this below). Some bugs in Google Earth have remained for years now (one despite my having reported it multiple times – an easy to fix bug in Google Earth’s flight simulator).
2) Support for GE developers has dwindled. Evidence for this can be seen by the drop in news about new applications using Google Earth, the plugin, or KML. The new Google Maps version does not directly support the old “My Maps (originally called My Places)” for creating custom maps. It now uses Google Maps Engine which doesn’t even support KML – you can’t import a KML file into Maps Engine (although you can import My Maps, but you can’t create new My Maps). What’s up with that? Instead of more support on the Google Maps platform for Google Earth features (like the fundamental KML standard), they aren’t even supporting it? Very few developers of the Google Earth platform, who regularly appeared in GEB in the past, have released anything new in recent years. The GE plugin is apparently dying a quiet death, there are no signs Google is trying to replace it with something new. Some developers are migrating to other non-Google platforms.
3) Marketing: Since 2008, Google’s main platform for sharing news related to Google Maps and Earth technology has been the Google LatLong Blog. In recent months, the number of posts have dropped dramatically on their blog. Also, activity on the social network accounts has also dropped. It’s a bad sign that even Google isn’t marketing their Maps and Earth efforts as frequently.
4) In my opinion, Google’s support for active users of their mapping platforms has also been trending downward. Google put a big emphasis on crowd-sourcing as a way to generate new content in the early days of these platforms. And, to Google’s credit, they did a lot to support the communities they helped create to do these things in the first few years. Understandably, technology has enabled Google to do some of these things without the need for crowdsourcing. For example, when Google sold Sketchup – the 3D modeling platform Google bought to encourage crowd-sourcing of 3D buildings for Google Earth/Maps. Instead Google is now generating 3D Building models in house using photogrammetry automation technologies. They no longer accept 3D buildings built by users for inclusion in Google Earth. Another example is photos. The Panoramio and PicasaWeb platforms that form the basis of geo-tagged photo layers for Maps and Earth. We haven’t seen a lot of new features on those platforms recently, and I suspect they will somehow migrate this to the Google+ photo platform in the future. I’m worried a lot will be lost in the transition. Meanwhile, they have put increased efforts instead in Street View technologies bringing automated photos in-house again. The Google Earth Community discussion forums migrated to a new Google-built platform a few years ago. My sense is that participation dropped significantly in the transition – although, these other trends above have probably contributed. Last reports I have is that Google is still supporting crowd-sourcing for map building in countries that otherwise have no data available.
5) The mobile platform has probably been a big distraction resulting in a lot of these negative trends on the desktop and for Google Earth in particular. The Google Maps app has certainly been a major win for Google in the last couple of years. It was so popular that when Apple tried to remove Google Maps from iOS and replace it with their own inferior app they had major backlash. Google’s new Maps app was quickly the most-downloaded app on the iOS platform when it was released. Google has continued to devote a lot of attention to the Maps platform on Mobile for both Android and iOS. However, the primary focus is mostly about navigation and finding places – not so much about creating maps, sharing, and visualizing content by other people, or supporting third-party maps applications. The Google Earth for Mobile is ok for basic visualization, but support for creating and importing maps/KML has always been a weakness on mobile. Also, the 3D capability while present, is awkward to use on the mobile app IMO.
These are just a few of the things I’ve noticed. Maybe other people can add their thoughts in the comments below. Please tell me if my analysis is off base, I will gladly retract if there are facts showing I’m wrong.
In closing, let me say that Google has been a fantastic company for advancing the pace of mapping and 3D visualization technologies. Some of the smartest people in the world work there. And they proved in the first few years of Google Earth that they could amaze everyone. I’m hoping they will pull a new genie out of the lamp and introduce some major new advances in both visualization and mapping technologies in the near future. I think there is still plenty of new things that can be done with the wealth of content Google has for geo-spatial, especially with the continued advances in computer graphics, processors, sensors, mobile, and Internet bandwidth. Whether that would be a new Google Earth (how about Google Universe?), VR, or something totally new, I would be thrilled to see something that would be as life-changing as Google Earth was when it came out in 2005. Come on Google, let’s see what you can do!
It appears that Google has just pushed out a fresh batch of imagery. Thanks to sharp-eyed GEB readers ‘Schorsch’ and ‘Munden’ for being the first to let us know about it.
Unlike some of the other recent updates, this imagery isn’t yet in the “classic” Google Maps. As a result, you can compare Google Earth to Google Maps to determine what is new; the fresh imagery is already in Google Earth, but the old imagery is still in Google Maps. If you compare the two side-by-side and they’re not identical, that means that you’ve found a freshly updated area in Google Earth!
Some of the updated areas include:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bihac
- China: Haipo, Suixi, Dinghai
- Germany: Hamburg
- Greece: Aspropirgos
- India: Mumbai, Hyderabad, Madhurawada, Agra, Nani Rajasthali
- Iran: Tehran, Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, Bandergaah
- Mexico: Matamoros and Tolentino
- Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore (partial), Township, Faisalabad, Darra, Hattar, Satellite Town
- Russia: Sochi, Adler
- Serbia: Belgrade
- Ukraine: Sevastopol
If you find any other updated areas, please leave a comment and let us know!
Last May, Google unveiled a new version of Google Maps with many new features, including native support for Google Earth. The new version of Google Maps has been an optional upgrade for users, but now they’ve announced that the new version will be rolling out for all users in the coming weeks.
The updated maps that they’re rolling out now is very similar to what they unveiled last May, with a lot of minor improvements and tweaks. This video from last year gives a nice overview of what you can expect to see:
Now that all users are being moved to the new Maps, what do you think of it? It’s certainly a drastic change, but seems to be a change for the better. What are your thoughts?
Google has just unveiled a new initiative known as “Project Tango” that has the potential to reshape many areas of our lives. This new combination of hardware and software could be of huge benefit to vision-impaired humans, but could also drastically change the state of indoor 3D modeling.
To this point, there have been two ways to view the interior of buildings with Google Earth. We’ve seen a few examples of interior 3D models, which have been very cool but very seldom (and seemingly going away). The other direction Google has gone is with interior Street View imagery, which they continue to rapidly expand upon. Project Tango looks to be an interesting combination of both, using some amazing technology. Here is a quick video to show you what it’s about:
It’ll be quite a while before we see this technology integrated into our devices, but the potential is amazing. In the meantime, if you’re a developer that would like to begin working with Project Tango, fill out the form at the bottom of the main Project Tango to be considered for one of their 200 prototype dev kits. They hope to release the dev kits next month.
What do you think of Project Tango? Amazing potential, or just a fun idea that’s going nowhere?
While many of us explore the wonders of Google Earth every day, we don’t always think of our use as “field trips” to various places. However, the idea of using Google Earth as a way to take a virtual field trip is amazing.
Med Kharback at EducatorsTechnology.com recently shared a list of 20 wonderful online museums and sites for taking a field trip. After some feedback from that, he shared some resources about how to create a field trip in Google Earth.
The basis of that post is an excellent PDF from Silvia Rosenthal of Langwitches. Silvia goes into great detail on how to create a field trip in Google Earth, and the document is an excellent resource for teachers to use.
Thanks for sharing that information, Med!
While Google Earth has powerful capabilities for getting things done, sometimes it’s just fun to browse around and look at cool stuff. The folks at TwistedSifter just did that, and released a list of 50 amazing finds on Google Earth. While many of them may be familiar to regular readers of Google Earth Blog, there were a few new pieces in there.
It’s a great list of fun images, and I suggested you check out the full list of 50 locations over at TwistedSifter.
The NASA Earth Observatory site is constantly releasing amazing images from space, including items such as this awesome image of Mount Everest, lava flow shapes, Laguna Verde, and many others. Their latest image is a stunning view of an extratropical cyclone over the United Kingdom that was captured last week.
This particular cyclone brought winds of over 100 miles per hour, and caused power outages to more than 700,000 people. They released a large image to show it off, which I’ve matched up in an image overlay and included in this KML file for you to view directly in Google Earth.
Read more about this cyclone on the Earth Observatory site or see other images from the Earth Observatory that we have showcased.
The post Amazing extratropical cyclone over the United Kingdom appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
To understand how images make it from satellites in orbit to Google Earth, you should take a look at Frank’s excellent about Google Earth imagery post from a few years ago. In short, Google doesn’t own any satellites that capture imagery; they buy the imagery from providers such as DigitalGlobe.
With that in mind, Richard Hollingham of the BBC took a trip to Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, where the WorldView-3 satellite is currently being assembled for DigitalGlobe.
WorldView-3 will be able to capture imagery at a remarkable resolution of just 25cm, though only the US government can purchase imagery that detailed. For Google Earth (and similar mapping projects, such as Bing Maps), the imagery will be released at a resolution of 50cm. As the article points out, from more than 600km away, travelling at around eight kilometres per second, capturing an image half-a-metre across is an impressive technical achievement, and is less likely to raise concerns about privacy.
It’s an excellent article that shows a bit more about how things work in regards to satellite imagery, and I recommend you check out the full story for yourself.
The post The next generation of satellites for Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Once again, in honor of Valentine’s Day we share some of the best romantic placemarks for Google Earth. To start, you can check out this old entry from Google Maps Mania which includes a wide variety of Valentine’s Day goodies.
Beyond that you can check out the collection of hearts provided by Google Earth Hacks, or see a video of them in action below:
For those of you that are still looking for love, Random Markers has posted a slick little app that shows recent personal ads via the Google Earth plug-in. It pulls the content from Google Base and then displays them in the plug-in. As per the site, it works best in the US because of the higher density of data to use (more personal ads).
If you’re still looking for more Valentine’s Day goodness, you can view a collection of marriage proposals , or check out a Valentine’s Day message from Google Earth Blog, powered by GeoGreeting.com.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
John Wallrodt at Paperless Archaeology recently shared an interesting story about taking a FileMaker Pro database and working with it to talk directly to Google Earth. The results are impressive and useful.
It seems to be a fairly complex process, but their blog post breaks it down into manageable steps. If converting from FileMaker Pro into Google Earth KML is something you’re wanting to do, John’s post will be very helpful for you. Check out the full post to read all about it.
(via FileMaker Pro Gurus)
The post Using Google Earth to display bar charts from FileMaker appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
The New South Wales (Australia) Government has just released a new product they’re calling the NSW Globe which compiles a ton of information about the state into a single, powerful KML file. The goal of the site, according to NSW minister for finance and services Andrew Constance:
The tool allows users to find out more about their property or local area, and provides access to historical information including aerial photographs of Sydney from the 1940s, as well as flood maps from places like Bourke, Moree and Wagga
Inside the KML file you’ll find the following:
- Imagery (medium and high resolution aerial, satellite both government and private sourced)
- Additional imagery (1943 Sydney Historic, Emergency Services)
- Terrain data (25m DTMS, 5m DTMS, LiDAR and SRTM various locations)
- Places (e.g. population centre, suburb, other places)
- Boundaries (e.g. coastline, local government, localities, electoral state and federal)
- Roads (e.g. arterial road, minor road, other)
- Rail (e.g. railway line, railway station)
- Addresses (property and address)
- Land parcel (e.g. lot and deposited plan, property boundary, labels)
For example, here is a shot of Sydney using the 1943 imagery:
It’s quite an impressive product and it provides an amazing amount of information about New South Wales. Check it out for yourself at globe.six.nsw.gov.au.
The post Exploring New South Wales, Australia in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Our friends at DataAppeal, who recently released a variety of updatesto their excellent tool, are back with some great visualizations of the Olympic torch relay.
The University of East Anglia Climate Research (UEA CRU) has released an excellent new interactive layer for Google Earth that show detailed temperature records for 6,000 weather stations around the world — with more than 20,000 graphs in all!
It’s an impressive amount of data to display, the use of Google Earth makes it easy to browse and explore. You can grab the KML file here or read more about it on this page at the Met Office Handley Centre website.
(via The Guardian)
The post View global warming trends with this new tool from UEA CRU appeared first on Google Earth Blog.