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The amazing things about Google Earth
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US flags for the 4th of July

lun 03-07-2017

Tomorrow, the 4th of July, is Independence Day in the United States. So, we thought we would try and find some examples of large US flags visible in Google Earth. It turned out to be remarkably difficult, given that Americans love their flag and display it as often as possible.

The best examples of flags designed for viewing from above are on commercial buildings:


Legendary Marine, Destin, Florida.


Lamons Gasket Company, Houston, Texas.

Laredo National Bank in Laredo, Texas is said to have the tallest flag pole in the US at 308 feet and flying a 100 x 50 foot flag. Unfortunately, the flag itself can only be seen in older imagery, which isn’t very good resolution.


Laredo National Bank, Laredo, Texas.

The largest flag ever made is The Superflag at 255 x 505 feet. It was created by Thomas “Ski” Demski in 1992. He passed away in 2002 but you can still rent The Superflag and smaller versions from the company he created. We were unable to find the flag in Google Earth imagery, but did find his home named ‘the Pole’ where he originally flew it.


‘The Pole’, Long Beach, California. We believe the three dots of colour on the neighbors roofs are imagery artifacts.

For the above locations, some other flags and locations of famous or record-setting flags, patriotic messages and more, download this KML file.

The post US flags for the 4th of July appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The best of Google Earth for June 2017

ven 30-06-2017

In June, Malta became the latest country to receive Street View. South Korea also got a significant increase in Street View coverage.

There was an imagery update in early June and we had a look at a number of new sights:
Mudslide in Argentina and Oroville Dam in California.
The Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda.
Floods in the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, and San Jose, California and a factory fire in the Philippines.

Google has not updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer recently so there are probably many other sights that didn’t make it into the default layer that we will only get to see on the next update to ‘historical imagery’.

Google has continued to ensure that the Voyager tours in the new browser based Google Earth remain fresh by adding a number of educational tours, a tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter books, and a Beatle Mania tour in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ eighth album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

We had a look at a collapsed bridge in Atlanta, Georgia and discussed the fact that Google Earth and Street View are becoming very useful tools for investigating such events.

We had a look at floating solar plants around the world. They still make up only a tiny proportion of solar generation, but the number is growing fast and we expect it to be a popular option in countries where land is at a premium.

We had a look at ‘fairy circles’ in South Africa. They cover a vast area across the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces. We believe they are created by termite or ant colonies.

When Google Earth doesn’t have imagery of large scale events, we look to other sources. We used Sentinel-2 imagery to explore a landslide and tsunami in Greenland, and flooding along the Black River, Arkansas. We used imagery from imaging company Planet to look at a landslide in California

We created a basic tool for two way conversion between KML and Microsoft Excel.

The Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) website released the results of pollution measurements being made by Google’s Street View fleet.

The post The best of Google Earth for June 2017 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

New Google Earth Explorer Tours

jeu 29-06-2017

The new browser based Google Earth continues to receive new content in the form of Voyager Tours. One recent addition is in honour of the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter book series and features a number of notable places relating to various Harry Potter films.


Platform 9 3/4 of Harry Potter fame.

Ten other Voyager tours were recently introduced in collaboration with National Geographic Society, PBS Education, HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue and focus on educational uses for Google Earth. One big benefit of putting Google Earth in the browser is that it is now available on Chrome Books, a special type of laptop that only runs the Chrome browser and no other native applications. They are popular in education and the absence of Google Earth on that platform was sorely missed by many.

In addition to the tours, National Geographic has put together some ideas for educators using Google Earth as a teaching tool.

We hope Google continues to encourage new content in the Voyager collection. We would actually like to see much more detailed and comprehensive content. For example, we would love to see the Explorers: Age of Encounter tour expanded to include other explorers from different dates and continents and to go into more depth for each one. We also found that it had not been thoroughly tested and at the time of writing, clicking on the PBS logo led to a broken link.

Note that the new Google Earth only runs in Google Chrome or as an app on Android.

The post New Google Earth Explorer Tours appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Millennium Falcon in Google Earth

mer 28-06-2017

We recently came across an article about an interesting find in Google Earth imagery. At Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars fame can be seen. It is hidden behind barriers but they omitted to cover the top.


Millennium Falcon, at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England.

The Millennium Falcon above was used in the filming of the latest Star Wars movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The filming took place in 2016 before the above image was captured, and at that time the Millennium Falcon was part of a much more elaborate set that can be seen here.

The original, used in earlier movies, was apparently built at Pembroke Dock in Wales then transported to Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire. A couple of other versions of the Millennium Falcon have been built for recent movies at Greenham Common, UK, for Episode VII and at Malin Head in County Donegal, Ireland for Roque One. Unfortunately neither has been caught in Google Earth imagery.

Back in 2013 we had a look at a KML file with a list of locations from the earlier Star Wars movies. For a comprehensive list of locations including the most recent movies see this Wikipedia page. Unfortunately it doesn’t provide an easy way to export the locations to Google Earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth and Street View as an historical record

mar 27-06-2017

On March 30th, 2017, a fire started under an overpass along the I-85, one of the major routes through Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The fire resulted in a section of the overpass collapsing and major repairs being needed to other sections of the roadway. Google Earth now features an image dated April 1st, just two days after the event. Already we can see work being done to repair the road. According to Wikipedia, repairs were completed by May 13, just six weeks after the collapse.


Collapsed bridge in Atlanta, Georgia.

Almost before the fire was out, people were checking Street View to see what had been under the bridge that could have caused such a major fire. Apparently there were some plastic conduits that had been stored under the bridge:


Conduits stored under the bridge as seen in Street View in March 2017 (the month of the fire)

Using the Google Maps version of Street View, we can go through the historical imagery, which allows us to see that the material was placed there some time between July 2011, and April 2012.


No materials in July 2011.


Materials stored under the bridge by April 2012.

Although in this case, the local government had records of what had been stored there, this sort of event highlights how useful both overhead imagery and Street View can be for quickly and easily checking the recent history of a location. We get quite a lot of emails asking whether we can obtain more imagery than is in Google Earth or Street View to help settle a dispute or identify when some event occurred. Unfortunately, we cannot help in such cases as we do not have access to any imagery not already available on those platforms and Google does not supply imagery for such purposes via other channels either.

There are, however a few things to keep in mind with regards to what is a relatively new public ‘historical record’ of the world:

  • How frequently imagery is updated and the resolution of imagery varies significantly from place to place. In many cases, even when Street View or overhead imagery would be suitable for what you want to find out, it simply isn’t available for the dates you are interested in.
  • It is not live and there may be a period of months or years between the time imagery is captured and when it is published. It will typically not help you track down a stolen vehicle or find a lost person.
  • Be careful with dates. Do not be too trusting of the dates on aerial imagery, especially when it is sourced from third parties. Older aerial imagery in particular is often incorrectly dated. Satellite imagery dates are typically much more reliable. Street View is only dated to the month and we do not know how accurate the dates are.
  • A significant proportion of the world doesn’t yet have Street View, and only some areas have high resolution aerial imagery (mostly the continental US, parts of Europe, Japan and New Zealand). Satellite imagery is often only useful for large scale phenomena.

It would be great if Google were to increase the accuracy of the dates on the imagery. The satellite imagery suppliers do know the exact time that each image was captured and it would be fairly easy for Google to have timestamps on the photos used for Street View. So why don’t they? It is possible they are concerned about the privacy implications of time stamps on Street View. They may also be concerned about the possibility of making mistakes. If Google gives an exact timestamp then the expectation that it is accurate is much higher.

The post Google Earth and Street View as an historical record appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Floating Solar Plants

lun 26-06-2017

We recently came across a story about the world’s largest floating solar power plant to date being turned on in China. Despite the article being repeated by many news agencies we found it very difficult to figure out the exact location of the solar plant. Eventually we found this drone footage showing the power plant and we were able to positively identify the location in Google Earth. A few solar panels from the plant were captured at the edge of an image from November, 2016. Strangely enough, we then found this drone footage claiming to be of the same solar plant, but it is clearly a different location. We managed to identify its location too. It is a bit older and can be clearly seen in a November, 2016 image:


Floating solar power plant in the same region as the new record holder.

Nearby, we found a solar plant under construction that looks like it will be partially over the water but anchored to the ground rather than floating.

Solar plant under construction. There are also arrays of stakes off the edge of the above image, so it will be quite a large solar plant.

There were many coal mines in the region and the area has suffered subsidence as a result of the mining, which created new lakes. The new record-holding floating solar plant is on one of those lakes, so it serves as a symbol of transformation from coal to renewables.


This village was partially flooded due to subsidence. It appears that houses remaining on dry land were demolished.


Another village flooded as a result of subsidence.

We also found a lot of other solar plants in the region built over water, such as this one along a river:

Putting solar panels over water has a number of advantages vs dry land:

  • Solar panels become less efficient as they heat up. The water helps to cool the panels, which increases their efficiency.
  • When used on reservoirs, they reduce evaporation, saving valuable water.
  • In regions where land is in short supply, such as Japan, it avoids wasting valuable space.

Almost all the solar plants we found had the panels aligned east to west, tilted towards the south, to catch the most sun. But one interesting idea we came across was an experimental floating solar plant in South Korea that rotates, significantly increasing efficiency:
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Speed in milliseconds per image:
Rotating solar power plant in South Korea. See on YouTube

animateImages([{id:"RotatingSolar",qty:7,interval:1000}]);

It is presumably cheaper to rotate a whole floating solar plant than land based systems that rotate individual panels to track the sun. The rotation observable in the Google Earth imagery is not very much, but that is likely a consequence of the fact that most imaging satellites have orbits arranged so that they take pictures around mid-day, so we do not see the early morning and late afternoon positions.

We came across this article discussing the advantages of floating solar panels, and it mentions that solar plants built over water are often combined with fisheries. It also mentions that the Anhui region of China, where the first solar plants we looked at above are situated, is expected to get around 3.2 GW of floating solar between 2016-2018, so the world record 40 MW plant is just a small part of a much bigger scheme.

For some pictures of floating solar around the world see this website.

For the locations of the places mentioned above as well as many other floating solar plants in China, Japan, and the United Kingdom, download this KML file. We have also included a few dry land solar plants that we found nearby while looking for floating plants, and a few major solar plants in China.

The post Floating Solar Plants appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Fairy Circles in South Africa

ven 23-06-2017

We recently took a trip from Cape Town to the Northern Cape Province in South Africa and on the way noticed what looked like patches of bare ground or nearly bare ground:

The above are photos we took, but you can also explore the region in Street View.

This reminded us of Fairy Circles, a phenomenon in Namibia. Last time we looked at Fairy Circles we also noted a similar phenomenon in Australia. We have also seen similar patterns around the world created by ants and termites. And in South America we looked at patterns that are apparently created by worm poo.

At the time, we did not think to try and find one near the road and see if we could see any ant activity. Once we got back from the trip we had a look in Google Earth and found the patches are even more visible from above and cover a vast region:

We believe these circles are created by ant or termite colonies. They can even be seen in cultivated fields, which suggests the soil is permanently changed. The Namibian and Australian fairy circles are found mostly on very flat land and scientists believe water plays a role in their formation. However, these ones can be seen on hillsides and slopes and seem to be stopped only by extremely rocky ground.

In most cases, the spots consist of areas of reduced vegetation, but in some places the pattern seems to be reversed, with more vegetation in the spots:

In some cases there are bare rings:

For the locations of some of the screenshots above see this KML file. But be sure to explore more as they cover a vast region.

The post Fairy Circles in South Africa appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Landslide and Tsunami in Greenland

jeu 22-06-2017

Last Saturday, on 17th June, a landslide in Greenland caused a tidal wave, killing four people and injuring nine in the community of Nuugaatsiaq. Two other communities, Igdlorssuit and Viaqornat, were apparently affected. Read more about it on the Landslide Blog.

We thought it would be interesting to see the area in Google Earth using Sentinel-2 imagery. We downloaded the Sentinel-2 image from 19th June, 2017 and imported it into Google Earth:


The relative positions of the landslide and Nuugaatsiaq.Copernicus Sentinel data, 2017.

The distance between the landslide and the village of Nuugaatsiaq is about 30 km. Igdlorssuit is about 60km from the landslide site and Viaqornat just over 100 km.


The region as seen in Google Earth imagery.


The village of Nuugaatsiaq as seen in a DigitalGlobe image from 2012.

Here is a YouTube video showing the Tsunami arriving at Nuugaatsiaq:

To see the relevant section of the Sentinel-2 image in Google Earth, download this KML file
.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

A Landslide in California with Planet Imagery

mer 21-06-2017

We love Landsat and Sentinel-2 imagery for their easy accessibility and global coverage, but they are rather low resolution at 10 m per pixel for Sentinel-2 and 15 m per pixel for Landsat. Commercial satellite imaging company Planet, now covers the globe with greater regularity and higher resolution (typically about 3 m per pixel) and for the US state of California, releases the imagery under creative commons licence within a couple of weeks of capture. We recently came across a large landslide that occurred along the Californian coast in an area known as Big Sur.

We were able to find it in Planet’s tool ‘Planet Explorer’ for browsing their imagery. You need to sign up to view daily imagery, but signup is easy and free.


The Big Sur Landslide as seen in Planet imagery.

Once you have signed up you can try going here to see the location in Planet Explorer. Try comparing before and after images with the built in ‘compare’ feature.

The post A Landslide in California with Planet Imagery appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Quiz Maker

lun 19-06-2017

Thank you to GEB reader Dieter van Werkum for letting us know about a Google Earth quiz maker he has created. See here for a sample of what it can produce, and the source code is on Github. He has adapted it to work with the new web based Google Earth as well as Google Earth classic.


Flyto Quiz in Google Earth classic.

The project consists of a KML file which you can modify to create your own multiple choice quiz. When the user gets the answer right, Google Earth flies you to the next placemark. The KML file contains all the instructions you need to customise it for your own quiz, although it would be helpful to know some HTML and CSS for the best results.


Flyto Quiz in Google Earth for Chrome.

It would actually serve as a useful template to start with if you are creating an ordinary tour of any kind. It can easily be adapted to have ‘previous’ and ‘next’ buttons instead of quiz answers and any content you like in the popups.

The post Google Earth Quiz Maker appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Street View comes to Malta and greater coverage in South Korea

ven 16-06-2017

Thank you to GEB reader Adino for letting us know that the island nation of Malta is the latest country to get Street View. We also discovered that South Korea has received expanded coverage.


Street View coverage, Malta.


Maltese buildings are various shades of beige and ornate balconies are popular. See in Google Maps


St. Paul’s Catacombs, an underground network of burial chambers dating from the fourth to the ninth centuries AD. See in Google Maps.


Street View coverage, South Korea.

Previously, South Korea only had coverage around Seoul and Busan.


Traditional Korean architecture. See in Google Maps.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Counting Gray Seals with Google Earth Imagery

jeu 15-06-2017

We recently came across this article about a scientific study of the populations gray seals in the North Atlantic that used Google Earth imagery to do a census.

One of the locations mentioned in the article is Muskeget Island, Massachusetts. We did manage to find the seals, but were also impressed by how much the sand bars change over time:

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Speed in milliseconds per image:
Moving sandbars at Muskeget Island, Massachusetts.

 

animateImages([{id:"Sandbar",qty:6,interval:1000}]);


It certainly is a popular destination for Seals


The shallow water around the island makes it possible to see many of the seals in the water.

The above location has aerial imagery which is higher resolution than satellite imagery. Satellite imagery typically is not good enough resolution for spotting or counting animals. However, it is sometimes feasible in cases where the animals stand out such as seals on the ice in Antarctica. It has also been used to count whales which, in addition to being very large, also stand out in the ocean. However, Google Earth typically does not have much satellite imagery of the oceans other than a thin strip around the land, so we have only been able to find a few examples of whales in Google Earth imagery.

The post Counting Gray Seals with Google Earth Imagery appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Excel to KML Two Way Converter

mer 14-06-2017

In January we created a simple KML converter that takes a KML file and produces a csv file that is easily opened with Microsoft Excel. Recently GEB reader David Kettle asked whether it would be possible to go both ways.

So, we have used an open source tool called SheetJS for reading and writing Excel files in JavaScript and have made a two way process.

To use it, simply upload a KML or KMZ file below and it will extract all the placemarks, paths or polygons into an Excel file. You can then edit the data in the Excel file then upload that and it will convert it back to a KML file.

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Notes:

  • All styles, folders, etc., are lost in the conversion.
  • It only extracts the outer edge of a polygon. If there are ‘cutouts’ then they will be ignored.
  • It doesn’t currently extract folder names. We will consider adding that as a feature in the future.
  • It extracts the longitude/latitude/altitude data in the format used in KML rather than separating them into columns. This was to make it easier to handle both points and polygons.
  • When we tried it on very large polygons, Excel gave an error – most likely caused by a limit on the amount of text allowed in a single cell.

The intent was not to create a universal converter but to provide a very simply utility, and to give those with some programming knowledge a starting point if they wish to create something more complex. Feel free to use any of the code used in the page. The original KML API can be found here The version used in the page was run through Babel to make it compatible with older browsers.

The post Excel to KML Two Way Converter appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Google Earth

mar 13-06-2017

When looking through the latest imagery update in Google Earth, we came across some images in northern Uganda. They were captured by DigitalGlobe as part of their ‘FirstLook’ programme and relate to the movement of refugees from South Sudan into Uganda. There is ongoing violence in South Sudan, which has in turn created a famine in the region. The combination is causing many people to flee the country. According to Wikipedia, the refugee camp is named Bidi Bidi, and with over 270,000 residents is the largest refugee settlement in the world.

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Before and after of one of the Bidi Bidi camps showing that it was not there in 2013.

Unfortunately, the DigitalGlobe image does not capture the full extent of the Bidi Bidi camps and only shows the southern edge of one new section that has appeared recently.

Before and after of another of the Bidi Bidi camps showing that it appeared between August 30th, 2016 and December 11th, 2016.

So, we downloaded a recent Sentinel-2 image of the region and were able to identify a number of camps that have appeared at various times starting in 2014. We also had a look at this list of the world’s largest refugee camps and were able to locate most of them.

Refugee camps are quite distinctive in satellite imagery. They typically have a large grid pattern of road networks, which are not typical of that part of Africa. Small towns in the region typically grow slowly and more organically, resulting in a less ordered layout than refugee settlements which are planned and built in short bursts.

Some of the largest refugee camps are a collection of five camps in Kenya near the border with Somalia. The southernmost camp was clearly over-planned, with a vast network of streets laid out, but only a small portion ever occupied:


One of the refugee camps near Dadaab, Kenya. The whole grid is 5 km x 4 km

To see all the camps we found in Google Earth, download this KML file

You may also find this YouTube video on various conflicts and famines in the region interesting.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Imagery Update: Mudslides in Argentina and Oroville Dam update

lun 12-06-2017

Mudslides in Argentina
In January, 2017, heavy rains in the northern Argentine province of Jujuy resulted in several mudslides that killed two women and injured at least five other people. Google has recently added some imagery captured soon after the event. As of this writing, the fresh imagery is only available in the default layer and has not yet been pushed to ‘historical imagery’.

Worst affected was the town of Volcán. Luckily the main mudslide seems to have been just to the north, largely missing the town. In April we saw a similar mudslide in Mocoa, Colombia, but it was not so lucky.

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Before and after of the mudslide at Volcán, Argentina.

Slightly further north, the town of Tumbaya was also affected. There is less mud in this instance, but it is clear that a large amount of water came down along the southern edge of the town.

Before and after of the mudslide at Tumbaya, Argentina.

The floods also damaged the local highway, which affected the Dakar road race that had been scheduled to pass through the area. See the KML at the end of the post for locations.

Oroville Dam
In February, we had a look at the Oroville Dam in California. Google has added a new black & white image showing the damage to its primary and emergency spillways.

The image also shows us some flooding downstream of the dam:

Also of note is some imagery of Caracas, Venezuela, captured in April, 2017, which was captured by DigitalGlobe. It relates to ongoing protests in that country. However, despite there being nearly daily protests in Caracas and around the country, we were unable to find any evidence of them in the image.

To find the locations above in Google Earth, download this KML file.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Data Usage: Google Earth Classic vs New Earth

ven 09-06-2017

The new web-based Google Earth is based on a completely new graphics engine. So, we wondered whether or not Google had implemented any compression algorithms or other mechanisms to reduce the amount of data that Google Earth needs to download. An example of such a mechanism is Google’s own Draco 3D compression library which they open sourced in January.

To run our tests we used a technique we previously used to try and estimate the size of the Google Earth database. We created Google Earth Tours that follow a zigzag pattern across an area, going slow enough so that all the imagery that Google Earth needs is downloaded. We cleared the caches then ran the tour in both Google Earth Classic and in New Earth. We chose some areas over regions with 3D imagery and one where there is only satellite imagery.

Zigzag 1: Near Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, USA.
Google Earth Classic: 60 MB
Google Earth Web: 60 MB

Zigzag 2: Maceió, Brazil
Google Earth Classic: 66 MB
Google Earth Web: 63 MB

Zigzag 3: Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China
Google Earth Classic: 6.6 MB
Google Earth Web: 8 MB

At this point it looked like everything was going well and there was very little difference between the two platforms. But then we thought of trying an area with lots of tall buildings. So we tried Hong Kong and got very different figures.

Zigzag 4: Hong Kong China
Google Earth Classic: 170 MB
Google Earth Web: 106 MB

After some experimenting, we found that the size of the view port in Google Earth matters a lot. If we changed the size of the side bar in Google Earth Classic to roughly match the placemarks sidebar in Google Earth Web it downloaded a mere 75 MB, less than half the amount of data than it did with a slightly narrower side bar and thus larger view port. So it would appear our overall methodology is flawed as it is difficult to ensure that the view ports are identical between the two products.

Despite the problems, we think that we can conclude that there are no major new compression algorithms in the new Google Earth at this time and you can expect similar internet usage when viewing a given area.

While creating the tours, we came across a maze someone had created in a field in New Jersey which was captured in the 3D imagery:

Here are the tours we used for testing.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Street View goes to Uluru (Ayers Rock)

jeu 08-06-2017

Google recently posted on their blog an article saying they have recently released Street View of the iconic Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, Australia.

However, on closer inspection it appears they have not released the imagery via the traditional Street View channels – Google Earth and Google Maps – but rather on a platform called ‘Story Spheres’ which integrates Street View-like photospheres with sound clips. The only Street View on Google Maps we could find is dated 2015 and does not appear to include all the locations found on Story Spheres.

We found Story Spheres to be difficult to navigate because it doesn’t include any maps and the panoramas take a long time to load when you navigate between them – even though we have a relatively fast internet connection. Also, on each navigation, it repeats the same audio instructions, which gets tedious fairly quickly.

Although we do think that having audio clips integrated into Street View is a great idea (and Google is almost certainly not the first to implement it), we think it is highly unlikely we will see such a feature integrated into either Google Maps Street View or the new web-based Google Earth any time soon. Allowing the general public to anonymously upload audio clips would create a nightmare for Google should they try to censor the content for appropriateness. So, they would almost certainly be restricted to only allowing a small number of approved content providers. This would mean that there would be a very limited amount of content worldwide and justifying building the feature into Google Maps or Google Earth for a small amount of content would be difficult. Luckily, Google Earth allows for audio in placemarks and tours which means it is technically possible to build something very similar already using a Google Earth tour. What we need is better tools for tour creation to encourage more people to create content.

Although Google has not yet gathered 3D imagery for Uluru, it does have high resolution altitude data and so looks quite impressive in Google Earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Maps can help solve border disputes as well as exacerbate them

mer 07-06-2017

A recent story in the news says that Pakistan and Afghanistan will be using Google Maps to help resolve border disputes between them. Hopefully, they will not require recent satellite imagery for the exercise as Afghanistan has not had any updates in recent years due to censorship. It is also far from clear from the new sources, how an agreement will be reached. In the days of satellite imagery you can very easily see where a village is, but deciding which country it belongs to is not a mapping problem but a political one.

See the video below explaining how Google, (just like all map providers) is often forced by local laws to display maps differently, depending on which country you view them from.

Interestingly, viewing the region in Google Earth from South Africa, the Afghanistan / Pakistan border is one of the few borders in the region not shown as being disputed.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Using Street View Cars to Measure Air Quality

mar 06-06-2017

For the past few years, Google’s Street View cars in some locations have not just been taking photos, but have also been measuring air quality. We first looked at this back in 2014 then again in 2016. At the time, we reported that they were measuring methane levels to help identify gas leaks. It seems that at some point they mounted more sensors and have also mapped out other pollutants, including nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and black carbon. Read more about it on Google’s blog.

The resulting maps can be found on the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) website.


A map by the EDF showing the pollution along the roads of West Oakland (near San Francisco).

A lot of factors affect the amount of pollution caused by cars, including the volume of traffic, the types of vehicles and whether or not they are typically accelerating on a given stretch of road.

Given that Street View cars are regularly travelling the streets of many parts of the world, other environmental organisations would do well to collaborate with Google on such projects. Google very early on saw that having cars driving around could have other uses, and it is commendable that they are making the data accessible.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Imagery Updates: Flooding and Factory Fire

lun 05-06-2017

Today we are having a look at three different floods and a factory fire.

Dominican Republic
In late April and early May, the Dominican Republic and neighbouring Haiti experienced heavy rainfall. There is a DigitalGlobe image captured on April 29th showing a region around Santo Domingo, the capital of the Domincan Republic:


Flooding to the north of Santo Domingo.

Malaysia
In January this year Malaysia experienced severe flooding, forcing 23,000 people from their homes. According to Wikipedia severe flooding is a near yearly occurrence in Malaysia. Worst affected were the north-eastern provinces Kelantan and Terengganu. The image below is from Kelantan. It is often hard to tell in rice growing regions what is abnormal flooding and what is deliberately flooded rice fields. In the region pictured, the houses appear to be on higher ground and appear to be mostly dry. We have included an older image for comparison as we initially mistook the local canals for flooded roads.

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San Jose, California.
In February, Coyote Creek overflowed in San Jose, California, resulting in evacuations of thousands of people. The image is black and white and we could only find one location that shows signs of flooding:


Flooding in San Jose, California.

Factory fire in the Philippines
In February, a factory caught fire near General Trias, the Philippines, injuring more than a hundred workers and resulting in at least five fatalities.


Factory fire in the Philippines.

To find the above locations in Google Earth, download this KML file. We have included outlines of relevant imagery and a couple of placemarks for other interesting sights we found while exploring the areas.

The post Google Earth Imagery Updates: Flooding and Factory Fire appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

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