Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Google Earth – It Just Keeps Getting Better

This morning I had an e-mail from my nephew at GoogleEarth. There are days I feel like one of the luckiest women in the world – my sisters and I have the most interesting children, now young adults, and they are all working in areas where they feel useful – stressed, working too hard – but greatly satisfied, greatly productive.

How cool is it to love Geography, and to be working for GoogleEarth? I grin every time I think of my nephew, who loves the work he is doing.

His e-mail a couple weeks ago reminded me that the new GoogleEarth was out and to be sure to upgrade. You can be sure I did. Today, he tells me about another blog that always has the most up-to-date goodies from GE – Google Earth Blog.

On November 12, Frank Taylor, the blog author, says:

Google has quietly introduced four new Featured Content Layers today. Go to the Layers on the lower left and look for “Featured Content”. Open the folder and look for the new layers at the top. Each is marked with a red “New!”. Here’s a brief overview of the new layers:

Rumsey Historical Maps – This is a collection of historical maps which you can overlay over their location on Earth. If you are not running Google Earth 4, you will not see this layer. Open the folder and turn on the map that interests you. The first link shows you the locations of the different map and each description gives you a few details. You can then turn on each map and they will be overlayed in GE. The maps are “regionated” which means they will load more detail as you get closer (it also means the images are scanned at a very high resolution). I’m sure some of my mapping friends like Jonathan Crowe will be curious to see these.

Tracks4Africa – this is my favorite of the new layers. There are maps of places to go in Africa built by compiling data from GSP tracks. The layer also has lots useful information and photos. Zoom in closer to see more detail. You can read more, and buy the maps for your GPS, by going to Tracks4Africa’s web site.

Spotlight on Africa – This is a collection of placemarks showing the flag of each country of Africa. The placemark description includes an overview of basic information of each country from the CIA World Factbook. The placemarks were developed by the National Geographic My Wonderful World campaign to help kids become more geographically aware. This is nicely done, but you can see the whole world done in a similar fashion in this collection.

European Space Agency – this layer shows ESA logo placemarks of different locations where a satellite photo can be viewed of that location. A small picture is in the placemark description, and a link to a page where you can see a larger picture. I am disappointed that you can’t just view the larger pictures overlayed in Google Earth though.

I am blown away by all the new Africa content. On a day when the sky has turned yellow in Kuwait, there are waves cresting out in the Gulf and the air smells like impending squalls, it is a perfect day to spend in Africa, via Google Earth!

Frank Taylor has all kinds of useful information on GE, and I am adding him to my blogroll.

November 13, 2006 - Posted by | Africa, Blogroll, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Kuwait, Travel, Uncategorized, Weather


  1. Hi All Experts,
    Does anyone use google earth images as ground image planes for use in aerial scenes. I know how to stitch them together but are there any tools or tricks to make sure that the images are at the same height, angle and such to make sure they stitch well. I know in the pro version you can get bigger images but im not going to pay for the pro version when i could stitch multiple images together…

    Comment by Jayce | November 28, 2006 | Reply

  2. Jayce, I will leave your comment posted in case an expert stops by . . .I am just a fan, not an expert. Have you checked out the GE blogs mentioned?

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 29, 2006 | Reply

  3. Hi Jayce,

    Speaking strictly as an outsider looking in, I can tell you that Google doesn’t want you to take data out of Google Earth for use in other applications. Most of the data that Google uses for Earth and Maps is specifically licenses for use in Google Earth/Maps. It is possible to write a script to scrape their imagery, but it is certainly in violation of the user agreement. Google recently had to shut down an open source project called Gaia because they were connecting to the Earth databases from an un-authorised client. The people behind Gaia weren’t being malicious, simply trying to make a cool application, but it violated the agreements Google has with data providers, and Gaia shut down willingly. If people rip data out of Google Earth, providers will be less willing to provide new imagery to Google Earth, or worse, revoke the right to use current imagery.

    Depending on what imagery you’re looking at, you might be able to use it for free. the USGS and USDA both provide imagery free to the general public. It’s all geo-referenced and ready to go. For high res international data, you will probably have to purchase the data from companies like Digital Globe.

    Comment by earthling | November 30, 2006 | Reply

  4. Thanks for your input, Earthling (love that name)

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 1, 2006 | Reply

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