Google Earth Blog
Uzi Bashan, the Fire Officer with Israel’s Fire and Rescue Commission, recently wrote an article on the Google Enterprise Blog on how they use Google Earth and Google Maps to help with their fire and rescue efforts.
From the article:
After the devastating Mt. Carmel fire in December 2010, which killed 44 people, injured dozens, and wiped out nearly 40,000 acres of forest, senior officers at the Fire and Rescue Commission realized we needed a more advanced fire alert system. This prompted our decision to deploy mapping technology from Google.
Now, using Google Earth Enterprise as our main GIS mapping platform, each call center operator has two screens – one displaying information from the national system, and the other displaying maps with Google Earth. Google Earth maps, with customized data layers, are automatically updated in real-time to show exactly where fires are and which firefighters are the closest to them. What used to take minutes now takes seconds.
It’s an excellent use of the Google Earth Enterprise platform, and I’m sure we’ll continue to see new examples like this in the coming months and years as other organizes streamline their processes in a similar manner. Be sure to read the full post at the Google Enterprise Blog.
We saw some amazing new Google Earth-related stories in May, and here are some of my favorites.
We took a look at some of the tornado damage in Mayflower, Arkansas.
We showed you some ways to use Google Earth to find a dark sky near you.
We revisited ways to use Google Earth to track the weather.
We shared the story of how Google Earth was used to help discover a long-lost forest.
We took a look at the new stadium that the Atlanta Braves are planning to build.
Google brought out some fresh imagery on May 19.
We shared some tips to make Google Earth more realistic.
We looked at some amazing images of (and interesting facts about) airport runways around the world.
What was your favorite story from May?
Last year we showed you a collection of the best roller coasters in Google Earth, highlighting some amazing parks around the world. A recent article in the Huffington Post takes it the other direction and highlights seven abandoned parks that can be found in Google Earth.
A great example is Six Flags, New Orleans, shown here:
From the article:
This theme park was closed just before Hurricane Katrina struck the region in 2005. It was heavily damaged in the storm and has been essentially abandoned ever since. Numerous attempts to rebuild it have fallen flat and the only salvageable ride (a Batman attraction) was moved to San Antonio. It has since become a film set and remains there today, crumbling into the dirt.
Over the years we’ve seen a handful of schools integrate SketchUp to showcase their campus in 3D, such as Paragould and Hartford High Schools a few years ago.
The latest example comes from McCracken Middle School in Bluffton, South Caroline (hear Hilton Head Island), where they’ve modeled 14 historic locations around their town.
Six classes at H.E. McCracken Middle School in Bluffton used Google’s 3-D design program SketchUp to re-create 14 locations around Old Town this spring, drawing models of local landmarks like the Thomas Heyward House and the Bluffton Oyster Factory.
Students in the class, in its second year at H.E. McCracken, learn to use SketchUp and other Google programs, culminating in the historic-locations project. After the students learned how to draw in the program, they photographed and measured 14 of the 26 historic buildings in Bluffton during a field trip in February.
It’s awesome that they’re working on projects like this at the Middle School level, but it’s unfortunate that these models will never find their way into Google Earth. As of last October, you can no longer submit models for inclusion in Google Earth, as Google is pushing their 3D imagery instead. While I agree that 3D imagery is the future of Google Earth, I do wish they’d allow individual 3D model submissions as well.
Regardless, the students have done a great job with their project and I encourage you to read the full article on the Island Packet website.
The post Middle school students in Bluffton, South Carolina, build their town in 3D appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
A while back we looked at some of the scariest airports in the Caribbean, but Lauren O’Neil has taken it further by finding some of the best-looking airports in the world in Google Earth.
You can find all of Lauren’s work at holding-pattern.tumblr.com. While her images are quite stunning, the logic behind airport runways can be even better.
Joseph Flaherty at Wired recent wrote a great article that explores the details of how runways are structured in terms of colors, symbols and fonts. A great example is in his “runway math” section:
Airport runways aren’t numbered based on priority, but compass bearings. A runway that is 194° away from magnetic north would be simplified to 190° to prevent rounding errors, and the last digit is dropped, leaving it at 19. Fun fact: Most runways are able to be used in both directions, and when approached from the opposite side the runway’s number is achieved by subtracting 18 or 180°.
On this Memorial Day, we offer you a few tools to help honor those who gave it all.
As we’ve done the last few years, we encourage you to check out Sean Askay’s Map the Fallen project. Using his KML file, you can learn about many of the people that have lost their lives in recent US military duty.
Another neat item to check out today is the US Medal of Honor collection that we first showed you in 2008. It was created by user ‘Up_The_Spurs’ from the Google Earth Community. You can download the KMZ and view the birthplaces, rank, organization, location of deed and citation for each winner.
If you know of any other great Memorial Day resources for Google Earth, please leave a comment and let us know.
Over the years, the realism of Google Earth has improved quite a lot and there are things you can do to make it more realistic.
The first one is pretty easy; simply by enabling the 3D buildings (powered by the auto-generated 3D imagery), you’re off to a great start. While the 3D imagery can look pretty bad from low altitudes, it looks stunning when flying over a city.
The big key to making Google Earth look awesome is to enable the photorealistic atmosphere, along with the “sun” and “water surface” features. By doing the above, you can end up with a scene similar to this:
These features can be quite resource intensive for your computer, so most people can’t leave them enabled all of the time, but they can have an amazing impact on the realism of Google Earth.
If you’d like to take it a bit further, this article on anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering will help you understand some of those features a little more as well.
Here’s an interesting use of Google Earth, that could apply to virtually any business with a variety of locations. Nik Freeman wanted to find a way to display the density of Waffle House restaurant locations across the United States, so he put together a visual display of them. He had intended to simply use it as a way to play with 3D in Google Earth, but the big spike in Atlanta was interesting enough that he wanted to share the image.
Some of Nik’s notes on the “quads” that display the data:
- The quads are continuous across the entire USA. There are no gaps, so every Waffle House location falls within one quad.
- Quad boundaries are static. They will not have changed if I update the data.
- Quads are named for the area they cover, making it easy to discuss particular locations.
- At approximately 2392 square miles each, quads are a nice “bucket” size for tabulating this kind of location data meaningfully.
It’s a great way to show this kind of data. You can read more over on his “Maps by Nik blog“.
( via Huffington Post)
George at MyReadingMapped is a hard-working guy. Just a few weeks ago he brought us the map of the El Nino Zone, and he’s previously created a variety of other excellent maps. Now he’s back with a map of Terrestrial Biomes around the world.
In his words:
This documentary, in the form of a Google Map, enables you to zoom in close on the various terrestrial biomes around the world. It is a companion piece to my Google Map of the Geography of the Köppen Climate Classification System, and unlike the Climate Classification map, this map is more of a photo collection of vegetation that survive in various climates. The placemarks within the boxed area have descriptions of the various categories that are then color and symbol coded to the actual locations of ice sheets and polar deserts, rainforests, tundra, taiga, temperate broadleaf forests, temperate steppes, dry stepppes, Mediterranean vegetation, tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests, arid and semiarid deserts, grass and tree savannas, subtropical dry forests, and montane forests.
Great work, George!
I had been ignoring this story since it’s so crazy, but it seems to be popping up more and more so I felt it was time to address it. In short, the folks at “Before It’s News” (and others) have been showing the following screenshot from Google Earth, claiming the lines in the image are from an underwater alien base.
It’s very similar to the story that went around five years ago claiming that the lost city of Atlantis had been found, with similar tracks showing up on the ocean surface. Google wrote a detailed blog post explaining what it really was, which is the same case here:
The scientific explanation is a bit less exotic, but we think it’s still pretty interesting: these marks are what we call “ship tracks.” You see, it’s actually quite hard to measure the depth of the ocean. Sunlight, lasers, and other electromagnetic radiation can travel less than 100 feet below the surface, yet the typical depth in the ocean is more than two and a half miles. Sound waves are more effective. By measuring the time it takes for sound to travel from a ship to the sea floor and back, you can get an idea of how far away the sea floor is. Since this process — known as echosounding — only maps a strip of the sea floor under the ship, the maps it produces often show the path the ship took, hence the “ship tracks.” In this case, the soundings produced by a ship are also about 1% deeper than the data we have in surrounding areas — likely an error — making the tracks stand out more.
I encourage you to read the full entry on that old Lat Long Blog post if you want to really understand how this occurs. Stefan at Ogle Earth also wrote a detailed breakdown of Atlantis years ago which is worth re-reading as well.
The post Did Google Earth discover an underwater alien base? appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
It appears that Google has just pushed out a new imagery update! Thanks to GEB readers ‘Z C’, ‘Munden’ and ‘HGy’ for being the first to let us know about it.
As is often the case, you can use Google Maps to determine for sure whether or not a specific area is fresh. This new imagery isn’t in Google Maps yet, so you can compare Earth vs. Maps to see what’s 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!
We’re not sure of all of the updated areas yet, but here are a few that some readers have found:
- Belize: Belize City, Xunantich
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo
- China: Shanghai
- Croatia: Zagreb
- Estonia: Lake Vortsjarve
- India: Visakhapatnam
- Israel: East of Arad
- Japan: Fuji, Mt Fuji, Numazu, Ishinomaki, Sendai, Shiogama, Onahama, Ibaraki, Kesennuma, Kamaishi, Miyako, Kuji, Hachinohe, Osaki, Futaba
- United States: Arizona (Phoenix), Florida (Homestead, Lakeland, Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach), Georgia (Smyrna), Kansas (Salina, Wichita), New Mexico (Albuquerque), Wyoming (Devil’s Tower)
If you find any other updated areas, please leave a comment and let us know!
Google first released their 3D Ocean feature in Google Earth more than five years ago, and it’s something that has seen steady improvements over the years. Here are some of the more interesting recent developments:
USS Mohawk, shipwreck by Trident Imaging
(via + Google Ocean Program)
Catlin Seaview Survey & Google Ocean at the 2014 Economist World Summit
From Google themselves, here’s more of what they’ve launched with Underwater Earth recently:
We are happy to announce 7 new underwater street view collects off Monaco and Mexico, including whale sharks and coral reefs in partnership with Australian non profit partner Underwater Earth’s “Catlin Seaview Survey” and launched in honor of the Economist Ocean Summit, where Prince Albert II of Monaco dove below Rocher Saint Nicolas virtually using the new Liquid Galaxy videowall. We also released the first ever San Francisco shoreline imagery collected from the water in partnership with Marine Advanced Research by placing a Google trekker camera atop the stable autonomousWAM-V® USV robot. Underwater Earth aims to reveal the reefs with more to explore at maps.google.com/ocean.
There have been some amazing developments to Google Ocean over the years, and it’s only getting better. What’s your favorite feature so far?
A few months ago, the Atlanta Braves baseball team announced they were moving out of downtown Atlanta and into one of the suburbs to the northwest part of the city. The current stadium, Turner Field, was home to the 1996 Olympic Games and has long been one of my favorite 3D structures in Google Earth. While the new version that was auto-generated with 3D Imagery isn’t quite as sharp as the old hand-modeled version, it’s still a great looking model.
The new stadium will be located up I-75 in Cobb County, on a 60-acre plot of land. Here is a look at the new location in Google Earth, which you can see for yourself by loading this KMZ file.
I expect at some point we’ll see a 3D model of the new stadium, but for now all they have are rough renderings of what they’d like to do. The new stadium is expected to open for the 2017 season. You can learn more at homeofthebraves.com.
The cache system in Google Earth is something you rarely think about, but it’s vitally important to how you use the product. By caching the imagery (and roads, buildings, etc), Google Earth is able to provide a very smooth experience once the data has loaded onto your system.
Google Earth keeps imagery in two types of caches to help improve performance. The Memory Cache holds imagery in your RAM, and is cleared each time you start up Google Earth. The Disk Cache holds imagery on your hard drive for easier access. Incresing those numbers can help your performance. However, if you have a low amount of RAM or are low on hard drive space, you may be better off to decrease them a bit to give your computer a little more to work with.
Using the cache you can also use Google Earth offline to some degree. It’s not as robust as the upcoming Google Maps offline features, but it’s still pretty cool.
Frank summarized the system pretty well in this post from a few years ago. In part:
First, go to the menu item Tools->Options and select the “Cache” tab. You will not need to change the memory cache for viewing the cache (there is a trick for storing the cache with this setting – see below). The memory cache is set automatically based on your system’s memory. You can make the disk cache size as large as 2000 MB (i.e. 2 Gigabytes). This will give you more data to work with. Then, you need to move to the area you want data for and zoom into that area. The most recent things you have looked at will be what’s in your cache. It’s important you zoom to the closest view you think you’ll use. Turn on other layers for information you want cached (for example, ‘Terrain‘, ‘Roads‘ and ‘Borders‘ – the more you select, the faster the cache wil fill). Also, make sure you save any KML files you might want to use in files on the same computer.
The more data you cache, the sooner the cache will fill, so be cautious. If you’re going on a long trip, cache in high resolution imagery just the areas where you plan to use GE for close viewing. Avoid turning other layers if you only need imagery. It can be a pain to move around and capture an area of imagery at full high resolution and load up your cache properly.
As a general rule I turn the cache up as high as possible to help improve my experience with Google Earth, and in most cases I’d suggest you do the same.
I’ll be speaking today (with Ali Green, my partner at GreenMellen) at the monthly Georgia URISA (Urban and Regional Information Systems Association) meeting here in Atlanta at lunchtime today. We’ll be discussing how to use WordPress with GIS, which is a great topic since this blog (as well as Frank’s Tahina Expedition are powered by WordPress.
Slides from the presentation can be found on the GreenMellen blog.
Do you use WordPress? What kind of fun GIS plugins do you use?
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.
According to author Ken Jennings:
Julian Bayliss, a British scientist specializing in plant conservation, was browsing for possible African rainforest sites on Google Earth when he stumbled on aerial photographs of Mount Mabu, a lush peak rising above the savannah of central Mozambique. He was surprised to find 27 square miles of medium-altitude rainforest—the largest in Africa—that, to his knowledge, no one had ever studied.
How could a whole rainforest hide in plain sight for so long? Locals in the area knew about Mount Mabu, of course, but the combination of a lack of roads in the area and a long-running civil war had kept outsiders away. Mount Mabu—the “Google Forest,” as it came to be called—had never been logged. It had never even been mapped.
It’s a fascinating story, as we always tend to assume that the world has been fully explored and tools like Google Earth are simply a way to see it again, but that’s not always the case. I encourage you to read Ken’s fully story to learn more.
The post The story of how Google Earth helped to find a long-lost forest appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
With severe storms again rolling across the central US, I thought it’d be a good time to revisit the ways that Google Earth can help you track the weather.
Google Earth has a variety of built-in layers that give you some amazing ways to view the current weather around the world. Simply by turning on the [Clouds] and [Radar] layers inside of the main [Weather] layer, you can get a great look at clouds and precipitation around the world.
If you dive below the clouds you’ll find a few nice touches. First, the clouds/radar are not on the surface of the earth, but up an an elevation of approximately 35 miles. Also, if you fly under an area that is currently raining or snowing (and you have an adequate video card) you’l actually see animated rain/snow on your screen.
You can also use the weather layer to help track hurricanes, as we showed you in the past with storms such as Hurricane Isaac.
Finally, for those that wish to dig a little deeper, we have our popular collection of weather tools that give you a variety of other weather-related data to explore.
We’ve all heard about El Nino over the years and how it can affect weather patterns, but it can be a bit tricky to understand the relationship between all of the elements involved in it. According to Fabius Maximus, a monster El Nino may be coming this year.
George at MyReadingMapped has put together some great maps to try to explain it.
In George’s words:
This documentary,in the form of a Google Map, accounts for everything you want to know about the El Niño Zone in a Google Map. Like weather changes, the Galapagos volcanic hotspot, changes in Thermohaline Circulation from Deep Current to Surface Current, the Westerly Winds, the submarine topography, disease outbreaks, food shortages, famine and cultural uprisings. I created this map because I discovered that no map to date put all the factors listed above together in one image. You can even compare today’s weather in the zone by turning on the weather feature in Google Map as shown below.
Great work, George!
The best stargazing occurs when you live in an area with very little artificial light, and the Bortle Dark Sky Scale is a great tool to measure it. Here is an example:
To get a rough idea of what the light is like in the areas around you, Ethan Siegel at Medium.com has put together a nice process for adding Bortle data to Google Earth. Once you follow their steps, you can zoom in anywhere in North America (or other areas with other maps) to see Bortle values for that region.
You can also try it in a browser by loading this map from Jonathan Tomshine.
If you can’t find a dark area near you, you can always use Google Earth to do your star gazing for you. The incredible night sky feature will take you to the stars, and the “starry sky” released last year gives you a beautiful view around the planet.
When you have a chance, make sure to read Ethan’s full post at Medium, as it does an excellent job of digging into the Bortle Scale and exactly how to use Google Earth to determine the Bortle value for your area.
The NASA Earth Observatory site brings us amazing images from time to time (such as some of these), and they’re back with some fresh imagery from the tornadoes that have ripped across the central United States in recent weeks.
The Mayflower tornado hit on April 27 and was rated an EF4. It left a path nearly 41 miles long and destroyed between 400-500 homes. From the Earth Observatory site:
At MODIS resolution, the entire town of Mayflower is barely distinguishable; but at ALI’s top resolution of 10 meters per pixel, it is possible to distinguish between individual buildings. In this ALI image, a trail of damaged trees and homes is visible near Interstate 40. The storm moved in a northeasterly direction, hitting the southern part of Mayflower first, then crossing I-40, and flattening neighborhoods along the shore of Lake Taylor.