New Google Earth Imagery – July 2009 – Good and Bad Part 2

Google has made yet another weekend update to the Google Earth imagery. I’m expecting a lot of GEB readers will start reporting new imagery they find during the weekend. Please leave a comment here if you find new imagery – which you can confirm by clicking on the “View in Google Maps” for a close-zoomed level, since Google Maps imagery does not yet have the update [UPDATE: Google Maps now has the new imagery, so you can't confirm now.]. For this update, there are some significant changes which I immediately noticed – some really good news, and some bad. Comments on the significant changes will appear below the list of new imagery noticed. By the way, I immediately noticed the new Spot Image imagery for Oman and Yemen.
New and updated imagery:

  • Oman – Medium resolution Spot Image.

  • Yemen – Medium resolution Spot Image.

  • Guadaloupe – Not sure if this is new this month, but Isle des Saintes in Guadaloupe now has 3D terrain (previously the islands were flat).

  • Romania – Constanţa (Thanks ‘twist3r’)

  • Sri Lanka – Kataragama Peak (Thanks Martin)

  • France – Largentiere (Ardeche) (Thanks Maarten), Departments of Aisne, Ardennes, Eure, Eure-et-Loire, Lot-et-Garonne, Ariege, Haute-Garonne, Ardeche, Alpes-Maritime,
    Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Ain, Rhone, Allier, Doubs (Thanks Andreas)

  • Bulgaria – Entire country – Medium resolution Spot Image (Thanks Thilo)

  • Greece – “Lots of areas” have new high res (Thanks ‘psx’) – confirmed in Larissa, Kythira, Kamari

  • Niger – Dirkou (thanks ‘ACarvalho’)

  • Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia – new medium Spot Image (Thanks Neli)

  • Poland – Ciechanów (southern part), Kołobrzeg, Łask (winter photo) – Thanks ‘m_k’

  • India – Bina, Madhya Pradesh – (Thanks ‘Alok P.’)

  • Republic of Congo – Loubomo (Thanks ACarvalho)

  • Spain – Ferrol, Monte Coya (Thanks Vranton)

  • USA – Southwestern States colorization removed (see below); Contra Costa County, CA has new high res (Thanks Munden); Niagara Falls has been ruined with low resolution imagery! (Thanks Munden);

  • Chile – Castro and Chilo´e; Island hi-res (Thanks JP)

  • Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq – these countries has been color processed to look consistent (Thanks Munden, Steven)

  • Libya – Some new Geoeye (May) just south of Sert (Thanks Munden)

  • Saudi Arabia – Riyadh got some GeoEye (Thanks Munden)

  • Canary Islands – Grand Canaria – new high res (thanks Ben)

  • Faroe Islands – New high res terrain (thanks Frank)

  • Maldives – Kudahuvadhoo (thanks Alsay)

  • Ghana – Tumu (Thanks Trevor)

  • Philippines – El Nido (thanks Eugene)

  • Mexico – Acapulco (thanks Mcmaster_de)

  • Egypt – Alexandria (thanks Mcmaster_de)

First, I’m very pleased because Google has removed some of the bad coloration they introduced to the southwestern US imagery back in early June. Many people complained (see the comments) about the way the new colorization process actually destroyed color information and made places in the southwest (which are normally desert brown), have a green cast on them. Thank you Google for listening!
Second, Google has introduced a new “coastline-cutting” tool to make the edges of the imagery conform to the shape of the coastlines. This is a pretty significant move as it effects imagery all over the planet. And, I have mixed feelings about this decision. On the one hand, it does make the land verses sea/bathymetry distinction more clear and pleasing to the eye. I’m impressed with how accurately the “cutting” has been done (so far, I haven’t checked everywhere yet :-) ). The previous technique has always showed aerial or satellite imagery rectangles as a patchwork of irregular shapes along the coastlines. Which did in fact make it a bit harder to distinguish land from water.
However, imagery of the areas of ports, bays, harbors, shallow waters (especially in the Bahamas), etc. have now been cut out in favor of the bathymetry. The base level imagery of Google Earth (and Google Maps after this update migrates there), will now have lost some very valuable information. The former technique formerly showed ships, aircraft flying in the area, water conditions, sub-sea surface conditions (shipwrecks, coral reefs, sea life, oil rigs, buoys, dive sites, and (very importantly to the boating world) anchorage sites. The new technique has in one fell swoop reduced availability of a great deal of valuable information to the boating world, marine biologists, economists, shipping industry, oil industry, coast guards, and more. (Oh, I should mention those of us who look for planes in flight have also lost many planes found over water). In Google Earth, you can still turn to the historical imagery mode and see imagery without the coastline cutting. So, all is not lost. But, you can’t turn on historical imagery (currently) with Google Maps. And, many people won’t realize the historical imagery will show the “missing” information. Let’s just hope Google doesn’t start cutting the imagery they get before they put it in the historical imagery database! [Update Oops, I've already found evidence of coastline cutting happening in the historical imagery!]
Another footnote: In most cases, anchorages are near the shore – so hopefully the new coastline cutting will not eliminate most anchorages from the imagery. But, passages across bays and harbors between anchorages may now only show the bathymetry instead of the imagery. A sense of ship traffic, and what the water looks like will only be available (maybe) in the historical imagery. UPDATE: Another positive note – the coast cutting does not appear to cut out the imagery for the lagoons for atolls I found in the Tuamotus. Just the outside of the coasts. That’s good!
What I can’t understand is why Google is trying so hard to balance making the planet look good in the “base” imagery layer of Google Earth at the risk of losing valuable information. While at the same time, they have built-in features that could easily give the users the best of both worlds. There’s a feature in KML that lets you fade-in/out different overlays of imagery based on zoom levels. So, with Google Earth it is possible to present a very nice looking earth while at the same time presenting as much imagery as possible. In Google Maps, they already present a different view until you zoom in close. Plus Google can easily add options to load a different tile-set just like they already do between say “Satellite” vs. adding “Labels”. How about “Full imagery”, or “Historical Imagery”, or “Uncut Coastline” options for Google Maps?

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 3D graphics for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank left in 2009 to circumnavigate the earth by sailboat as part of the Tahina Expedition.



Comments

  1. Mark Reidy says:

    There is a new strip just north of Drogheda, Ireland and the Imagery has been has been cut along the coastline

  2. Czech Republic now very high imagery !!!!

  3. Constanţa, Romania now has the first imagery from GeoEye sattelite in Romania. It’s dated 29 May 2009

  4. Frank Taylor says:

    @FIDO: Can you be more specific to location?
    @Mark Reidy: Drogheda, Ireland does not show as new when i check.
    Please verify findings by checking Google Maps with the “View in Google Maps” option. Google Maps does not yet have the new imagery – zoom to the same level to be sure.

  5. Kataragama, Sri Lanka

  6. Maarten says:

    It seems that – again – some parts of France heve been updated. I see new imagenary at Largentiere (Ardeche).

  7. Entire country of Bulgaria covered by Spot Imagery

  8. Andreas says:

    France: Departments of Aisne, Ardennes, Eure, Eure-et-Loire, Lot-et-Garonne, Ariege, Haute-Garonne, Ardeche, Alpes-Maritime, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Ain, Rhone, Allier, Doubs

  9. A lot of new imagery in Greece!
    I cannot be more precise, since they cover random places around the country.

  10. New imagery for the following French department:
    Ardèche,
    Alpes-Maritimes,
    Alpes-de-Haute-Provence,
    Ariège,
    Haute-Garonne,
    Lot-et-Garonne,
    Landes,
    Eure-et-Loir,
    Eure,
    Aisne,
    Ardennes,
    Ain,
    Allier.

  11. ACarvalho says:

    There is also new high-res imagery around Dirkou and some desert areas in Niger

  12. Lots of update in Serbia, Albania, Montenegro.
    Seems that all Serbia is now highres.
    I noticed a very weird behavior near Belgrade in Lestane for instance. The current map IS OLDER than the previous you get from the historical imagery mode.
    It is very easy to spot many new buildings on that previous map that are not on the current map. There is also a big stone extraction facility that shows small in the current map, while it has digged a good chunk of the hill on the previous map.
    That is clearly a bug.

  13. I’m still hoping that the imagery of Belgium is going to updated soon. Most of the country is still low res imagery which is up to 7 years old.

  14. 3 cities + surroundings in Poland:
    Ciechanów (southern part)
    Kołobrzeg
    Łask (winter photo)

  15. Still not Finland. Come on Google! We are not so isolated anymore :)

  16. Any idea what their position is on ever updating Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, west of Key West? Only thing around for 68 miles, and it shows one corner of the largest brick structure in the western hemisphere in high-res, and the other 85-90% of the tiny fort and island is not even discernible as having a building on it.

  17. In northern Oman the building where I live certainly has an updated image; probably no better resolution. In southern Oman – the coast at Khor Rori has not been updated since 2003 – apart from improved contrast.

  18. ACarvalho says:

    New high-res imagery also around Loubomo, Republic of Congo.

  19. Vranton says:

    En España / In Spain:
    -Ferrol (Galicia)
    -Arae de Avilés (Asturias)

  20. USA: the area NE of San Francisco has been updated. It extends from the water around San Pablo to the east as far as Discovery Bay and south as far as San Ramon. The coloration is different and obvious. The resolution is higher than previously, and LPH-10 Tripoli is now visible at a dock in this imagery.

  21. Mark Reidy says:

    @Frank Taylor
    It defiantly wasn’t there all the time, maybe it was last time they added it but I have only noticed it now

  22. COASTAL CUTTING – I fully agree that this is not helpful for those with interests in ports, shipping and coastal waters. In the UK and Europe more widely, images of ports, the inner parts of estuaries and enclosed bays seem to have mostly survived the edit, but some complex coastlines like the Isles of Scilly (only recently added!) have been hacked about, and the lost areas now have no features either here or elsewhere.

  23. Iran: The country has been run through their colorization process. I can find the same clouds in various spots over the desert, but it’s clearly been processed to make it look like one solid image tile. (excluding Tehran from the colorization oddly)

  24. Libya: Tarabulus now has GeoEye imagery from May of 2009 and there’s a long strip of new GeoEye imagery roughly centered on Sert.

  25. Libya, sorry ONLY Tarabulus was updated. Surt was from a previous update apparently. I don’t know why it looked like an update to me previously.
    By the way, however, look in the water just off the coast from Dakar. There’s a strip of ocean imagery that’s sitll around. Very odd that it’s not been trimmed properly.

  26. Saudi Arabia: Riyadh got a GeoEye update.

  27. In Chile: Castro (Chiloé Island) in high-res for the very first time!!!

  28. COASTAL EDITING ERROR:
    Nothing says “REMOVE THIS, GOOGLE” than going to Niagara Falls. The falls themselves are back to 15m Landsat. Congratulations! Also, they managed to wipe out a good bit of the imagery on the Canadian side with it.

  29. Recolored imagery: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq

  30. Why is Google trying so hard to make the planet look “good”?
    Increasing the income stream from GE and Maps means expanding the user base well beyond those who understand the background to the imagery, and Google must perceive that the wider user base needs a regular looking planet so as not to be put off the product.
    Not unreasonable for a commercial operation, even if there is no sign of market research. But they have to get the balance right, and in the case of coastal cutting have lost far more commercial potential from use of coastal waters data than they could possibly gain from featureless shallow sea floors. So let’s hope that business sense prevails.

  31. Canary Isles are new too

  32. Theres definitely new Hi-Res-Terrain in the Faroe Islands!

  33. The image over Oderzo (Italy) is always much poor and older than the previous…!

  34. Kudahuvadhoo, Maldives got high resolution imagery for the first time.
    2°40’16.15″N
    72°53’41.32″E

  35. the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto is also cut off by the new imagery

  36. mohammad says:

    update this place Qorveh, Iran
    from 2006 we have not seen any change!

  37. Thomasasz says:

    Yeah… The imagery of Lithuania is 7years old! C’mon Google!!! :(

  38. barakuda says:

    Serbia does not have any new imagery. Im from serbia and i open GE almost every day and i can tell you for sure there is no new medium Spot Image.
    That medium spot image was put there in update that happend 10-13-2008. Here you can see my post http://www.gearthhacks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8245&page=7 and look at the date. Same goes for Montenegro.
    I just think you should change your listing.

  39. Single map imagery reason:
    Speed. In order for a user to experience a nice smooth zoom or tour from one area of the earth to the other GE map streaming needs some optimization. If you have one set of imagery you can use the low resolution imagery as a part of the higher resolution imagery thus vastly reducing data transfer volume.

  40. Rich Horner says:

    SIMPLE.
    The coastline cutting just needs a layer option in the ocean layer: ‘Sea Surface Imagery’
    Google might then also seek out good quality images of the sea surface in the areas of interest, all listed above and more no doubt.
    We need both options for sure!

  41. It appears that the area around Tumu, Ghana has been given higher-resolution imagery with this update.

  42. Philippines: El Nido is the only new imagery I see.

  43. Google Maps now has the new imagery.

  44. what about ploiesti , Romania ? when we’ll see an update on that area ? 10x

  45. Luís Rochinha says:

    Hi,
    The western area of the Island of Príncipe was also updated to a med res, finally. :D
    The country is São Tomé and Príncipes, in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa. It’s a paradise on earth.
    Best regards,
    Luís Rochinha

  46. Masonicmoron says:

    The Isles of Scilly now look great in hi res
    best regards
    MM

  47. McMaster_de says:

    Updates for:
    Acapulco, Mexico
    Alexandria, Egypt

  48. Antonio Teixeira says:

    A strech of the Zambezi Valley in Mozambique, around the twon of Sena, is now visible on high resolution. This includes the long rail Dona Ana Bridge.

  49. Google has released the information for this update in their blog.
    And they have included a KML file with all the updates areas highlighted! This is what I was always hoping for. Check it out.

  50. Google has been a great help to our civic action group!
    We are using it to document why a beautiful, 100 meter high, emerald green jungle covered hill right is the center of Davao City and formerly a sea bed, consisting of sea sand and coral chunks, big and small should not be approved for subdivision development because of risk of landslide, flash flooding, loss of watershed, and a unique landmark for the City. Without Google pictures, they just won’t get it.
    Please update the five+ year old pictures that have clouds cover on key locations.
    7 04′ 46.61N 125 34′ 52.61E
    Best regards,

  51. Niagara Falls’ high-resolution imagery has been restored

  52. Bruce Kenball says:

    The island of Ko Mak, Thailand has updated imagery. I know this to be a fact as it is one of my favorite places on Earth. I have been watching for an update. I noticed the image improvement before this announcement, but it was not mentioned in the update list as being done. I suspect there are others around the planet also.

  53. Reviewing some coastlines in the Pacific significant offshore reef imagery has been lost with the coast trimming exercise. Several hundreds of kilometres of offshore reefs previously visible on Google Earth can no longer be seen. This is very significant for those who use Google Earth to plan research and expeditions to these outlying areas. Is there any way to reinstate this lost data?

  54. I’d like to see an update to the imagery of Luxor, Egypt which has seen massive changes since the last update in 2005 – new and wider roads, total landscaping of the temples of Luxor and Karnak etc etc

  55. Loraine Baker says:

    I think it is about time the maps of Luxor and Karnak were updated. There have been a lot of changes since the last update.

  56. Julian Galvez says:

    Hi I would like to point out that a lot of the imagery i the Philippines are still dated 2007, while so much has changed over the past two to three years, especially in the Metro Manila area (National Capital Region). How long will it be before we see updates over here?

  57. I think the cutting of boats and vehicles is a good thing in the long view, because their rate of change is so rapid. Such content should be shown with layers of real-time data markers or photos or models. If you want to see where ships move through an area, load up a current AIS data set and see where they go now, not 5 years ago. Dredging projects could easily move the traffic several miles from where old imagery showed it.
    The same applies for dive sites, wrecks, bouys, hazards, etc. as all of these could relocate over time, and would be better tracked with placemarks from recent data collection.
    That said, corral reefs should be part of the bathymetry, and should still be included, unless they were in fact destroyed by a hurricane or some other major event.

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