Last night, Google pushed out some new layers for Google Earth. At the top of the layers pane, and turned on by default, are the new “Geographic Web” layers. The Geographic Web is an attempt to improve the quality of geographically oriented discovery. When turned on, as you zoom in closer to a significant location, more placemarks appear – this process helps reduce clutter. Here is what is available in the new layer:
- Best of Google Earth Community – Google has hand-picked some of the best placemarks from the GEC. Each of the placemark descriptions has a nice wrapping of useful links leading to the community, and includes pictures and descriptive text from the original posts.
- Panoramio – This is a collection of placemarks pointing to georeferenced photos from the web photo repository called Panoramio. Panoramio is a free georeferenced photo site which was built from the ground up with both Google Maps and Google Earth interfaces. Read my reviews here and here.
- Wikipedia – These placemarks are a selection of articles from Wikipedia. The placemark descriptions contain photos, summary information, and links to many useful parts of Wikipedia including the full article. I haven’t yet determined whether these are hand-picked articles or simply all the Wikipedia articles which have been georeferenced.
Another important addition is for Canada. Google has added many of the basic layers for Dining, Lodging, Parks and Recreation, Community Services, etc. for areas all around Canada. This information is called “Points of Interest” (POI) in GPS lingo. It is an invaluable resource when traveling or considering moving to a new area and Google has been making it available for more countries every few months.
Google continues to try and find better ways of presenting community contributed information. I congratulate them on working to improve the quality of information, and to improve the interface for viewing the information. There’s a delicate balance between too much information, and quality. These new layers certainly provide another avenue for exploring the world’s information. It will be interesting to see how this process of improvement continues in the coming years.