Anybody who hasn’t played around with Google Earth should download and install it–this program is going to change (and already is changing) the way we see our world and the way we learn about places, plan trips, teach geography, organize resources, and much more. I have written a couple of times in the past about new Google Earth/Google Maps developments:
Those of you who aren’t familiar with Google Earth are probably familiar with Google Maps. Google Maps is Google’s web-based mapping program (similar to MapQuest or Yahoo! Maps), and Google Earth is a desktop-based program (that still uses the internet) that combines various satellite maps to create a highly detailed rendering of the entire planet. These programs are becoming more tightly integrated. At some point it is likely that Google Earth will be entirely web-based, but the level of complexity in the amount of information available in this application limits this for now.
Here are some recent updates to Google Earth and Google Maps:
- Google Earth is developing high-quality 3D building models for Earth. Currently several cities around the globe feature some 3D rendering in Google Earth, but the buildings have been grayscale and blocky. Here is a recent post about the new buildings being rendered for Las Vegas. More and more high-quality building models are being incorporated. Check out other new examples here.
- Google Earth recently released a major update to their application, and expanded environmental data is one of the new features. A recent post on the Google Earth Blog states:
Eight days ago, Google released a major update to the Layers of Google Earth. Included within the update were several new additions to the “Featured Content” section. I already wrote about the excellent US National Parks layer which includes 10,000 miles of trails. Now, let’s take a look at the UNEP‘s (United Nations Environment Programme) Atlas of our Changing Environment layer.
The UNEP Atlas layer can be found in the Layers pane on the lower left of GE under “Featured Content”. This layer shows 100 sites in which they compare older photos to current and show how the environment is changing (usually in a very bad way). For example, let’s take the Amazon in Brazil. You can open this placemark of Manaus, Brazil . When you click on the placemark, you see a bubble describing deforestation due to urbanization and growth of the nearby city. There is also a link letting you open image overlays showing two satellite photos between 1987 and 2001.
Read the complete post here.
- The photo sharing service Flickr is being incorporated into Google Earth with a process called geotagging. Geotagging photos allows you to put the exact location where that photo was taken. Other people can then move around on the map and see all the photos that have been taken of that particular landmark/place. It is still somewhat hacky to do this but you can read more about it at this recent blog post:
- Click here to play around with a very cool Flash version of Google Earth (and Windows Live’s mapping program). It is not the complete experience, but you get a good idea of the power of this program.
- Google Maps is also getting more interesting and useful all the time, with mashups of various other web services creating very useful new applications. This recent post from Google Maps Mania highlights two new very cool mashups for the Philadelphia and Washington D.C. areas: