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Google Earth Blog
Earlier this week we had a look at how long it takes Google to process and release 3D imagery. For a few locations, we looked at the dates the imagery was captured as well as the dates that it was first discovered in Google Earth.
Now, GEB reader Anton Rudolfsson, who has been assisting us by delineating newly found 3D areas for our KML map, has also taken the trouble of tracking down the dates for the various 3D releases and categorizing all the areas by release date. So as of today, our KML file includes the option to see the areas either categorized by country or by date discovered.
There are three regions that Anton was unable to track down the dates for: Hollister, El Centro and Truckee, all in California. So if any of our readers know approximately when these were first spotted in Google Earth, please let us know in the comments.
Colour coded regions by date discovered – Europe. White is oldest, Red is newest.
Colour coded regions by date discovered – North America. White is oldest, Red is newest.
Although Google have not updated their ‘Latest Google Earth Imagery Updates’ map since the December 17th update, a number of readers have let us know that there have been quite a few areas updated since then.
GEB reader Sladys has also pointed us to the fact that Genoa, Italy has been updated and the Costa Concordia can be seen in the new imagery. Soon after the Costa Concordia disaster happened we showed you satellite imagery of the wrecked cruise ship and not long after we had a look at a stunning 3D Google Earth tour of the disaster created by Peter Olsen.
It took more than two years for the ship to be salvaged and it was towed to Genoa in July 2014. The current image in Google Earth is from September 2nd, 2014. For pictures of the vessel arriving in Genoa see this article. To see the location in Google Earth, download this KML file.
The Costa Concordia docked in Genoa, Italy waiting to be scrapped.
Other places that have updated satellite imagery include:
From GEB reader Sladys:
New York City and Denmark: the island Als from Sonderborg along with the western part of the island of Fyn and up to Fredericia.
From GEB reader Horváth:
New River Lagoon, Belize
The Western half of Chiquinquira, Colombia
From GEB reader André:
Koh Kong – Cambodia 2014-12-29 Lat 11.615871° Long 102.998715°
Mieu Mon – Vietnam 2014-12-17 Lat 20.828134° Long 105.647598°
Hanoi – Vietnam 2014-12-23 Lat 21.038988° Long 105.890052°
Hai Phong – Vietnam 2014-12-30 Lat 20.804957° Long 106.607445°
Bai Thuong – Vietnam 2014-12-30 Lat 19.902632° Long 105.467691°
Nanjing – China 2014-12-29 Lat 31.971838° Long 118.840109°
Namelala – Mozambique 2014-12-29 Lat -14.473656° Long 40.650851°
East of Makurdi – Nigeria 2014-12-31 Lat 7.689083° Long 8.677589°
Ibadan – Nigeria 2014-12-28 Lat 7.359290° Long 3.973806°
Accra – Ghana 2014-12-29 Lat 5.601988° Long -0.169390°
From GEB reader MapMaker:
Some areas in Ukrane
Since September last year we have been keeping track of 3D imagery released by Google, with the help of our readers who spot the imagery and then let us know in the comments of this post. A big thank you to all the GEB readers that have been contributing.
Google Earth does not show imagery dates for 3D imagery. However, it is usually fairly easy to match up 3D imagery with historical imagery in Google Earth to find out what date it was captured. Sometimes the exact same image can be found in historical imagery, but not always. My usual technique for identifying the date is to find a construction site, as they tend to display large scale visible changes over time, and then find the closest matching image in historical imagery. Sometimes there is an exact match, with vehicles and shadows in the exact same place, sometimes there is no equivalent historical imagery and you can only estimate when the 3D imagery was taken. Also keep in mind that the date Google Earth displays for aerial imagery is not guaranteed to be exact
What we have found, for the locations we have looked at, is that Google often takes a year or more between capturing the imagery and releasing it as 3D. In some locations, Google has clearly put a lot of effort into touching up the 3D manually, especially when it comes to bridges, certain historic buildings, some intricate structures and, we believe, even some aeroplanes. However, some of the recent releases have taken a year or two to release, but have no obvious structures that were given special attention. So, we really don’t know what takes so long to process.
The quickest turnaround we have identified so far was the update to New York that was spotted in Google Earth in December, and the imagery appears to be from June last year. Luguano, Switzerland, which was added just a few days ago, seems to be based on imagery from July 2012. For a few of the locations where we have identified imagery dates you can download this KML file.
As with many of the buildings and bridges around London, the flying buttresses and spires of Westminster Abbey must have been manually edited by Google.
An interesting building in Amsterdam shows signs of manual editing. The 3D imagery was released early this year, but captured some time prior to March 2012.
Prompted by our series showcasing uses of the Google Earth plugin, Gary Grimm of Mountain Visions has shared with us some Google Earth tours that they have created. You can find a complete gallery of their tours here which includes a mixture of tours to download and view in Google Earth, tours to watch using the Google Earth plugin, and tours that have been recorded and can be viewed as an online video.
Although we generally prefer to download tours and view them in Google Earth, using the plugin to display tours can have a number of advantages:
- You can place descriptive information in the web page around it, including links to further content – although most of this can be done within the tour.
To some degree it protects your content from copying.
It is easier for the user as they do not have to download the tour and open Google Earth.
Below are some of the best tours from the Mountain Visions collection presented using the Google Earth plugin. To view them using the plugin, you will need the plugin installed and a compatible browser. It may take some time to load the tours, so be patient and wait for the ‘play’ button to appear in the bottom left hand corner of the plugin.
Prince of Wales Island Watershed Restoration Projects, 2006-2011
(or download the KMZ to view it in Google Earth.)
A screenshot from the CuMo mine tour.
This is the seventh in our series showcasing the Google Earth plugin.
Today we are looking at probably the best known app built with the Google Earth plugin: The Monster Milktruck. It was developed in 2008 by Google to showcase the use of the Google Earth plugin. It even has its own Wikipedia page. We looked at it when it first came out. The original version published by Google is broken, because it uses a model from the Sketchup 3D Warehouse, which has since been sold by Google and the URLs have changed. However, we have fixed that bug and resurrected it for your enjoyment. If you have the Google Earth plugin installed and a browser that supports it, you should see the Monster Milktruck game below and be able to play.
MONSTER MILKTRUCK! To drive: use the buttons, or keyboard arrows (with focus on page).
The NUS Library’s use of the plugin is unusual in that they are not using it to display Google Earth imagery at all, but rather utilizing Google Earth’s sophisticated 3D engine to display the interiors of buildings. It doesn’t all work perfectly, but considering the changes in both browsers and the Google Earth API since 2008, that is to be expected. If you have the Google Earth plugin installed, and a browser that supports it, then head on over to their website and have a look around!
Amazingly, you can search for a book and it will show you which shelf it is on!
The Chinese Library. Most locations have popups for more information.
The post Google Earth plugin showcase: National University of Singapore Library appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Over the last few years Digital Globe, one of Google Earth’s main sources of satellite imagery, has been holding a contest for the best satellite image of the year. The winning image for 2012 was of the Burning Man Festival, and the 2013 winner was of Mount Vesuvius.
This year, the wining image is from the Rainbow Range in British Columbia, Canada.To read more about it and see the other top main contenders, see Digital Globe’s blog post.
The image itself is not in Google Earth but you can see it in Google Earth using this image overlay.
Best satellite image of the year, 2014. Find the high resolution image here.
Created by geography teacher Josh Williams, the site allows you to compare two maps side by side with different settings. The maps can be kept in sync, similar to the Street Earth tool we looked at yesterday. For more details about the site and how it got started, see Mickey’s post from 2011.
Although the site has recently been converted to use Google Maps rather than the Google Earth plugin, the plugin version is still available here and Josh tells us that it will continue to be available until December 2015, when Google is planning to end support for the plugin.
Josh also pointed us to the YouTube video below that demonstrates using his site to look at the damage caused by the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma. You can do the same for the tornados we looked at in Monday’s post, although it can be quite difficult to find the correct locations, as the search functionality is not very good. To help you find the locations, copy this url:
then paste it in the ‘Fetch or Go to’ option at the bottom right of the plugin. Then turn on historical imagery in both panes via the ‘Earth Layers’ menus at the top. Next, select appropriate imagery dates for comparison.
The free Street Earth tool helps you to embed three panels on your webpage showing Street View, an overhead map and the Google Earth plugin. The three panels are mostly kept in sync, so you can move your location in any one of them to see the view in the others, although to update the Street View panel you have to drop the yellow man from the maps panel.
You can see it in action below. Note: you will need to have the Google Earth plugin installed, a browser that supports it, and for some browsers you may have to allow the plugin to run on this page.
We recently came across this article featuring Google Earth imagery showing the town of Pilger, Nebraska, before and after a tornado. After a bit of research, it appears that the newly added image is from October 14th, 2014 and shows the town in the early stages of reconstruction. There are, however, images in Google Earth’s historical imagery that show the town just days after the tornado hit. It also turns out that the tornado that hit Pilger was just one of an outbreak of tornadoes from June 16-18 of 77 tornadoes that caused two fatalities, numerous injuries and widespread damage over several states.
Looking around in Google Earth’s historical imagery we discovered more images from soon after the tornados, including some showing tornado damage in the town of Wessington Springs, South Dakota. In addition, there is also imagery from Madison, Wisconsin which was also struck by a tornado, but we were unable to identify any tornado damage.
Pilger in September 2011.
Pilger on June 21st, 2014, just days after the tornado
Pilger on October 14th 2014, showing the debris has been cleared.
Wessington Springs on June 21st, 2014
You can see some footage of the tornado from security cameras in this news report and from a distance in this YouTube video, and in depth analysis of the tornado here. It is also worth having a look at the Street View in Pilger, which is from August 2012 and gives an idea of what buildings were destroyed.
To view the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth, download this KML file
See here for past articles about the destruction caused by tornados seen in Google Earth.
This is the third in a series of posts showcasing the Google Earth plugin as both a farewell to the plugin, which was deprecated last month, and as a hint to Google to consider working on a replacement if they aren’t already.
Yesterday we looked at GEFS Online, a flight simulator with a variety of aircraft, including a balloon. Today we are looking at a more specialized simulator: a paragliding simulator.
We first looked at Paragliding Earth back in October, 2008. The site is still running and the simulator still working well, although there seems to be a problem with the map used for locating sites not zooming in. The site is designed to allow paragliding enthusiasts to share information about paragliding sites all over the world and has a wealth of information available.
Coming in to land. Finding a site with 3D imagery took a while, but it was worth it!
The post Google Earth plugin showcase: Paragliding simulator appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
This is the second in a series of posts showcasing the Google Earth plugin.
Today we are looking at the unofficial Google Earth flight simulator known as GEFS Online. Google Earth has a built-in flight simulator that you can learn how to use here. GEFS Online expands on the idea with a number of significant features not available in the built-in version. These features include, amongst many others:
- A better looking onscreen instrument panel, with more instruments than are found in the Google Earth version.
A wide range of aircraft, including helicopters and a balloon, as opposed to the two aircraft available in Google Earth.
Dynamic suspension on the aircraft.
A wider range of controls that are also customizable.
Multiplayer mode, allowing you to see other players’ aircraft, as well a chat.
A global map showing airports and other players.
Engine sound effects.
Flying over Sion, Switzerland, which recently received 3D imagery.
The map shows airport locations and basic stats, as well as the location of other online players.
This is the first in a series of posts we will be doing to showcase various uses of the Google Earth plugin. We are doing this as a farewell to the Google Earth plugin, which was deprecated in December.
First up is Rally Navigator. This is a website that helps you create printable rally navigation instructions called roadbooks. We first looked at it back in February 2013 when it was still an open beta and then again in October 2013 when a premium version with new features was released. The basic version is still free.
Rally navigator lets you set up your route in the Google Earth plugin and then create a printable roadbook for the route.
See this YouTube video for more:
Rally navigator was developed by Paul van Dinther, whose other work we have looked at in the past, such as Ships, his Google Earth plugin ship navigation simulator that he is in the process of updating to a Google Maps based version.
In June last year Google acquired Skybox Imaging. So far they have launched two imaging satellites, but plan to launch many more.
We have had a look at some of their early images, such as the animated gifs of Burning Man created from images captured during the festival.
We also had a look at the Skybox for Good program that collects satellite imagery for selected non-profits.
Skybox has posted on their site a satellite image showing the Poppy display at the Tower of London that took place in November last year to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Satellite image of the Tower of London showing the moat filled with red ceramic poppies. See the full image on the Skybox website.
We have been hoping to see Skybox imagery making its way into Google Earth’s imagery, but we are not aware of this happening yet. It may be that Google has decided not to use Skybox imagery for Google Earth because the imagery is not as high resolution as other providers, such as Digital Globe.
The post Skybox captures Tower of London poppies from space appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
One of our biggest stories of December was the problems with Google Earth search that were caused by an update to the way search results were displayed, a change Google made in late November. Google fixed most of the problems within a couple of weeks. It was evident from the comments that many people use the Google Earth “Get Directions” feature to measure driving distances between locations, which has become very useful for many businesses.
December also saw Google announce the long expected official deprecation of the Google Earth plugin. It will continue to work (in supported browsers) until December 12th, 2015.
December also saw the continued addition of 3D areas and we had a look at Black Rock City, New York and San Francisco. The two later locations received an update to their 3D that is of better quality than what they had previously. It was noted by readers that entering Street View in some parts of New York and San Francisco causes Google Earth to crash. Since then many GEB readers have reported similar crashes with Street View in a number of other cities around the world.
When looking around San Francisco, we discovered that Google Earth sometimes shows different 3D images depending on the zoom level.
For Christmas, we had a look at the Santa trackers and were a bit disappointed that neither tracker allowed us to track Santa in Google Earth.
We also showed you a model of Santa’s village in Google Earth, created with inspiration from the Santa trackers
Here is our wish list for Google Earth this year:
- An update to the desktop version of Google Earth. We haven’t seen an update to Google Earth for more than a year. There are a number of well known bugs in the current version and it is showing its age.
If the above update takes place, we expect it to use the new 3D graphics model demonstrated in the latest Android version. At the time off its release, Google hinted that we would see the new 3D graphics model used in other Google products before too long.
One major issue with the current version is that the street map data is not a live copy of Google Maps and hasn’t been updated for over a year. If the above 3D update takes place, then we expect it will use live Google Maps data, as the Android Google Earth does. If not, then we hope Google will at least do a refresh of the Google Earth street map database.
Continued expansion of the automatically generated 3D areas. We especially wish to see expansion of the 3D areas to Africa and Asia, the two continents where there is a notable absence of the new 3D.
The use of Street View to generate 3D at street level, complementing the 3D generated from aerial photography. The current automatically generated 3D is particularly poor at street level and when it comes to overhangs, such as bridges and trees. An alternative would be to simply use Street View to enhance the resolution of building facades in cities.
Historical Street View in Google Earth. Currently, the only way to view historical Street View is via Google Maps. In addition, as has been pointed out by a number of GEB readers, Google Earth does not correctly show the locations of user contributions in the form of Photo Spheres, even though they can be viewed in Google Earth.
What is your Google Earth wish list for 2015?
Google’s 3D imagery map shows the lack of 3D coverage in Africa and Asia.
2014 saw several new countries added to Street View, including Greece in June, Serbia in July, Indonesia and Cambodia in August, and Argentina in September. For a comprehensive timeline of Street View coverage see the Wikipedia page.
2014 also saw expansion of Street View coverage within countries, and greatly increased use of the Street View Trekker, with coverage of landmarks like the Pyramids of Egypt, national parks, beaches, coastal areas captured by boat, underwater locations, and buildings. For a tour of iconic places where the trekker has been used, see here.
A map of Street View coverage can be found here. Thank you to GEB reader Lynne for letting us know about this.
The most significant development in Street View, however, was the introduction of the ‘Historical Street View’ feature in April. This feature is only available in the Google Maps version of Street View and not in Google Earth.
Also of great importance are the contributions to Street view by individuals via Photosphere, as this provides coverage in places where Google has not yet sent its cars or trekker, or of events, such as the protests in Hong Kong.
Shirito Falls, Mt.Fuji, Japan. Captured with the Street View Trekker.
Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Captured with the Street View Trekker.
By the time you read this, it will already be 2015 in the Line Islands of Kiribati, as it is the first location on Earth to celebrate the new year. It is an interesting fact about the peculiarities of the dateline, that London, Kiribati (GMT+14), will celebrate its New Year before Alofi, Niue (GMT-11), begins its New Year’s Eve. For more on the oddities of the world’s time zones, see this YouTube video on the subject.
Here at GEB we have been celebrating the new year with virtual fireworks since January 2011, when Stephen Ho, whose work we have featured a number of times, created an animation of the 2011 Taipei 101 fireworks as a Google Earth tour.
View it in Google Earth by downloading this KML file.
Yesterday we looked at Google’s progress in imagery updates. Today we will look at the progress Google has been making in rolling out 3D areas in Google Earth. Back in September we worked out the area covered with 3D using the KML file we had released the week before. At that time, Google Earth had approximately 207 thousand square kilometers of 3D. Now, a mere 4 months later, there are 260 thousand square kilometres covered – an increase of just over 25%.
We don’t always know the age of the source imagery for the 3D, as Google does not indicate the date it was captured, like they do for other imagery. However, for some locations it is possible to identify the age of the imagery, such as Black Rock City the location of the Burning Man festival that was released in 3D recently. It turned out that the imagery was from the 2013 event, implying that it took Google over a year to process and release the imagery.
Thank you to all the GEB readers who have contributed by finding new 3D areas and letting us know in the comments. A very special thank you to GEB reader Anton Rudolfsson who has been assisting us by drawing the outlines of the newly discovered 3D areas in Google Earth. In late November Google released their own map of 3D areas, but since they only show placemarks and not the perimeters of the areas, we will continue to maintain our KML.
The cruise ship Marco Polo docked in Tromsø, Norway. Tromsø was recently added and is currently the northernmost 3D area in Google Earth.
Google has updated the ‘Latest Google Earth Imagery’ map, showing an update on December 17th. Thank you to GEB reader ‘AC’ for letting us know.
Latest Google Earth Imagery map – December 17th, 2014. Larger Version.
As is traditional at this time of year, let us look back at previous updates and see how Google is doing. Google provides a handy map of imagery updates from 2009 to 2014, although it does not currently include November and December this year. But even without including the large update on November 8th, it is clear that 2014 has been the best year yet for imagery updates.
Imagery updates 2009 – October, 2014. Larger version.