Google Earth Video, Layers, Environmental Activism, and Links

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I had heard about new layers being added to Google Earth a few weeks back, but really hadn’t explored them. I’m glad I spent some time looking more deeply at Google Earth tonight. There are a lot of potential things that web designers and developers can do with Google Earth that look like they could be fun, and could attract some visitors to a site.

Checking through new videos in the Google Tech Talk series, I noticed one on Google Earth I hadn’t seen before from November 21, 2006. There’s a lot of stuff going on with Google Earth that I wasn’t aware of, and the layers are definitely worth exploring. The current events section of the Google Earth Community is an awesome feature, and the way that some environmental groups are using Google Earth is worth looking at.

Jessica Pfund has been exploring and working on Google Earth for almost a year, and she introduces us to some of the things we can do with Google Earth (after we find our homes and maybe where we work), in the Google Video: Google Earth: Beyond Your Backyard (link to the Google Video)

Some interesting aspects of Google Earth discussed (mostly) on the video:

1. Google Likes to think about Google Earth as if it were a “geographic browser,” and it’s possible to do business/local searches within the geographical boundaries of a view as well as web, news and image searches about a place from the map that springs up from a place found on Google Earth.

2. Layers used in Google Earth are streamed from the Internet, though some of them can be cached.

3. You can make your own maps which you can share with other people. You can make your own icons for those, and use HTML in the description which appears in the popup maps. You can use html to link to pictures in those descriptions. Keyhole Markup Language (KML), allows you to do much more, in both Google Earth and Google Maps. Jessica suggests using the tutorial there if you’re interested in creating and sharing KMLs with other folks.

4. Google for Educators has a section on Google Earth.

5. Jessica Pfund works on the layers aspect of Google Earth, so the video goes into a lot of detail on how to use layers. Google Earth Community will host your layers for you. Anyone can become a member of the community, though it is moderated.

6. The current events section of the Google Earth Community is pretty intriguing. (An example of one layer someone created was one that points towards locations involving the State Funeral for President Ford.)

7. Realtime networked KMLs can be created by folks, and a group in New York ( has a great example.

8. Sketchup images can be placed on Google Earth, and those can be shared on the Sketchup 3D warehouse.

9. KML can be used to create some historical maps for certain areas.

10. Environmental activists are using Google Earth at Town Planning meetings, and in other places. The Sierra Club mapped the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge with Google Earth to protest drilling in the region.

Some Google Earth Related Sites:

Google Earth Community – hosts kml files for free, and a great place to explore to see some of the many things possible with Google Earth.

Google KML Documentation – Introduces the different elements in Keyhole markup language, and includes tutorials.

Google Earth Hacks – has a large amount of information and downloads for Google Earth.

Ogle Earth – A blog about Google Earth

Google Earth Blog – another (unofficial) blog covering Google Earth.

Juicy Geography’s Google Earth page for Teachers – Tutorials, lesson plans, classroom tips, and lots of links.

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5 thoughts on “Google Earth Video, Layers, Environmental Activism, and Links”

  1. Bill:

    Great stuff as usual.

    You say:
    “The current events section of the Google Earth Community is an awesome feature, and the way that some environmental groups are using Google Earth is worth looking at.”

    But I did not see any links related to environmental uses. Did I miss something? That is very interesting stuff.

  2. Bill:

    OK, I see where some people have pointed out items of environmental interest, but I was thinking along the lines of layers for environmental information.

    My wife is working at the U of Delaware on GIS systems that include topographical information along with development plans, soil maps and more. Combining these is fascinating for environmental analysis. She could tell you more.

    Are they working to integrate any more of that type of information in Google Earth?

  3. Hi Alan,

    The State of Delaware, the University of Delaware, and a number of Delaware cities have gotten GIS information into Google Earth, and are actively working on doing more with it..

    Rae might be interested in the Delaware Geographic Data Committee pages. Looks like there will be a conference held in May 2007 in Dover – the Delaware GIS 2007. There’s time to submit a poster or paper to them, if she would want to consider doing that.

    Mike Mahaffie, who does a lot of work with GIS (he may be in charge of a lot of Delaware’s GIS efforts) from the Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination, has a blog called Mike’s Musings. He’s very friendly and accessible and lives down in the Lewes area. She’d probably learn more from Mike in a few minutes than from almost anyone else in the State of Delaware. He’s also one of the most tech savvy Delaware employees I know of.

    I’d like to hear more about what she’s working upon. There’s a lot of potential to do some interesting and meaningful things in Google Earth from a government and educational stance.

  4. Thanks for the information Bill. I have forwarded it to Rae. I know she really likes the GIS work she is doing. The best part though, is going out in the field to verify composition of sites that are vague in the photographs and satalite images.

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