Google Earth Blog
Google has just announced that they’ve purchased Skybox Imaging for $500 million, in an effort to help keep imagery updated more rapidly, improve global internet access, and assist in disaster relief.
Google’s press release on the acquisition was short and to the point:
Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced today that it has entered into an agreement to buy Skybox Imaging for $500 million in cash, subject to adjustments.
Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals in the US.
You can also read more on the Skybox blog.
Back in 2012, Google released some amazing underwater Street View imagery from a few areas around the world. As part of World Oceans Day last Sunday, Google has released some additional underwater Street View imagery that is equally stunning. In partnership with the Catlin Seaview Survey, you can now dive and explore some additional locations in Belize and the Philippines including the Belize Barrier Reef and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.
From the Google Lat Long Blog:
The Catlin Seaview Survey team has documented many underwater locales around the world using their 360-degree panoramic SVII cameras, including a growing number of UNESCO Marine World Heritage Sites. We’ll continue to add this imagery to Street View in Google Maps as it’s collected. In the spirit of World Oceans Day, the goal of this project is to expose the world to the beauty of these marine habitats, and to create a scientific baseline record so that their changing health can be monitored over time.
You can also check out this article from last year that discusses some of the technical hurdles that they face when working to capture this kind of imagery.
Thanks to a tip from GEB reader ‘Anthony’, we see that Christchurch, New Zealand is now shown in full 3D thanks to Google’s “3D Imagery“.
As with all 3D cities (a list of which can be found on Wikipedia), things look awesome from the air, but get a bit melted when you get in close. That said, the streets (for the most part) are flat and smooth, as compared to some past cities that are quite lumpy. In all, it seems that Google is continuing to refine their process for adding 3D imagery and each new city looks a bit better than the previous one.
I’m still holding out hope that they eventually integrate 3d imagery with their street view imagery. They did it four years ago on the old-style 3d buildings, and it looked amazing. I’m sure the technical hurdles are much higher when working with 3d imagery, but I’m guessing they’ll get there eventually.
Alan Parkinson has pointed us to a fun resource from the folks at Geography All The Way — a challenge that takes you back to 1937 as a pilot for Imperial Airlines.
The year is 1937 and you work for Imperial Airways. The company has just taken delivery of a small fleet of Short Empire Flying Boats, with a range of 1200 km and an average speed of 300 km/h.
Your job is to design a route so that Imperial Airways can use their Short Empire Flying Boats to fly paying customers from Southampton, United Kingdom to Cape Town, South Africa.
You need to decide as a class the maximum safe distance for a flight leg, the time taken to refuel the flying boats and the earliest and latest the planes can fly. In 1937 planes did have radar so would not fly at night!
Use Google Earth, with it’s measurement tool, to design your route. Each stop needs to be at a settlement with a significant population. Your route should be submitted as a single Google Earth file with the placemarks in the correct order.
You should produce a route card that includes the start and end point of each leg of the journey, the distance, the duration and the take off and landing times.
The post provides additional tips on using tools such as the Google Earth Ruler and Google Spreadsheets to help facilitate your work. All in all, it’d be a fun challenge for a geography student to tackle!
The 2014 World Cup is a week away, and Google has just released Street View imagery for all 12 stadiums. As you’d expect, the imagery is very sharp and looks great!
In addition, Google has released imagery for the “painted streets” in Brazil:
The post Google releases Street View imagery for all 12 World Cup stadiums in Brazil appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
While Google has published Street View imagery for an amazing collection of countries around the world, one they’ve never covered before is Greece. That is set to change, potentially tomorrow (June 5).
Thanks to a tip from GEB reader ‘Konstantinos’, we’ve learned that Google has invited select people to an event announcing the new imagery, where presumably details will be revealed and the imagery will be pushed live.
The story of Street View in Greece goes back for years. Street View cars first appeared in Athens in April of 2009 but the Greek Data Regulator rejected Google’s license application, demanding from Google more details. Four years letter (November 2013), they finally announced that they received all the necessary details from Google and they gave the final OK, with the license plates and faces to be erased from the maps.
Thanks for the tip, Konstantios!
A few days ago we had the chance to explore Providence Canyon (also known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon”). Since it was going to be my first visit out there, I spend some time exploring the area in Google Earth. They have a few maps available on their website, so I took one of those and overlaid it on Google Earth.
If you’d like that file for yourself, you can grab this KML file.
Interestingly, while the Grand Canyon was formed over the course of millions of years, Providence Canyon only took a few hundred. The story of its creation is quite amazing:
Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon” is a testament to the power of man’s influence on the land. Massive gullies as deep as 150 feet were caused simply by poor farming practices during the 1800s, yet today they make some of the prettiest photographs within the state. The rare Plumleaf Azalea grows only in this region and blooms during July and August when most azaleas have lost their color. The canyon soil’s pink, orange, red and purple hues make a beautiful natural painting at this quiet park.
In addition, here’s a fun 360 “photo sphere” that I took inside of the canyon:
You can learn more about Providence Canyon on the Georgia State Parks website.
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.