Google Earth automatically generated 3D areas

Thanks to GEB reader ‘ehog’ for letting us know that Győr, Hungary got the new 3D mesh recently.

Google first announced their method of generating 3D via stereophotogrammetry from aerial imagery in June 2012. As part of the announcement Google said that they expected this new technology to cover “communities of over 300 million people” by the end of the year. A year later, in July 2013, they were doing quite well and we counted around 150 cities with the new imagery. Progress continued, and in August 2013 Google announced that from October of that year they would no longer be pulling models from the Trimble 3D Warehouse as they wished to focus on more scalable methods.

This year we have covered the release of 3D imagery for Tokyo, and other Japanese cities, Christchurch, New Zealand, and London.

However, there has been no easy way to find the new automatically generated 3D areas that Google is adding to Google Earth. Google has not, as far as I am aware, ever released a KML with the locations as it often does for new satellite imagery.

Google has a list that can be found here. However, it is far from complete and even has some incorrect entries such as Forli, Italy which does not have the new imagery. It doesn’t even have some well known locations such as London, UK, which do have the new imagery.

The Wikipedia page for Google Earth also has a list of the new 3D areas, although it relies on helpful people noticing new areas and updating the list, and it, too, is not completely accurate. It does not, at the time of writing, include Győr, Hungary, and does not have all the entries from the Google list, such as Olbia, Italy, for example.

3D Mesh Map

So, we decided to create a KML file combining all the locations from the Wikipedia page, and the list from Google, and a couple of extras that aren’t in either list. And here it is!

We have included locations as given in the two lists, as well as the regions covered by 3D. We have made the KML a network link so that we can continually update it as we discover new areas.

Note that we have not included places that have the older type of automatically generated buildings that load as individual buildings. The newer method loads as a single mesh covering a whole area. Also note that the older type of 3D model does not display in ‘Earth Mode’ in the new Google Maps.

The best coverage is in California, and the worst is in Africa and Asia. Alaska is, I think, the only US state with no locations covered, but with its largest community, Anchorage, having an estimated 298,610 residents in 2012, maybe it didn’t quite make the cut.

If you know of any places not in the KML, please let us know in the comments below.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.



Comments

  1. Nothing happens when I click on the link for the KML file.

  2. José Gonçalves says:

    You should add Lisbon in Portugal

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Lisbon uses the older style which has individual models for each building. I have not included areas like that in my map.

  3. The suburbs of Ioannina city in Greece! Unfortunatelly not the city itself.

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Thank you, a new country!
      I have added it to the map, right click on the network link and select ‘refresh’ to see updates.

  4. Add Oshkosh, Appleton, and the rest of the “Fox Cities” in Wisconsin. Still no Milwaukee or Green Bay.

  5. Szombathely, Győr, In Hungary are missing.

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Thank you, I don’t know how I forgot Győr, after mentioning it in my post!
      I have added both to the map, right click on the network link and select ‘refresh’ to see updates.

  6. Hinesville, GA (USA :)

  7. …and Cuiabá, Brazil (staduim area only)

  8. I wonder why Google avoids capital cities and important tourist places like: Prague, Berlin, Milan, Venice, Barcelona, Vienna, Warsaw, Washington DC, Frankfurt (Main), Hamburg, Amsterdam, Milan, Monaco, Stockholm, Grand Canyon Village – but has time to fly and gather photos over small cities in Romania or Hungary (no offence :) and even there we don’t have 3D mesh of Budapest. In what order do they do it? Where is the logic?

    • Does local sponsorship i.e. money play a part, plus local feelings about intrusion into privacy such as Street View has found in Germany and Austria?

    • Maybe they need more time to process the imagery, beacuse f.ex. Budapest (and its agglomeration) is approximately 4-5 times bigger than any other cities in Hungary. But I really don’t know, why Google captured Sighişoara, in Romania, that city has only 30000 residents…

    • I would be nice if Google did a little explaining on the behind-the-scenes on their Lat Long Blog. I am totally perplexed about this.

  9. Timothy – a very helpful and welcome post. Good to see GEB moving into practical subjects like this. Have you edited Wikipedia including a link to your KML?

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      No I have not. You are welcome to do so, and anyone is welcome to update the Wikipedia list with information from our KML.

  10. Add Hinesville, GA United States

  11. How did you manage to find the actual boundaries of the 3D areas? That seems like a lot of work to delineate all of them unless there was already some dataset available. Regardless, I’m still glad it’s included.

  12. Here you have some places I miss in the KML:
    Spain: All the area between Sant Feliu de Guixols and Palamós (both included)
    France: La Rochelle and Clermont – Ferrand

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Thanks. I have added the Spanish area. The French locations are the older type of 3D buildings.

      • Hey Timothy!, you’re right about the french locations!, but believe me!, I’m 100% sure that they were the new 3D type some weeks ago, I’ve even delimite the area!, it’s quite weird… maybe they were only testing?

        Anyway, thanks for this nice klm!

  13. They added Evora, Caldas da Raihna, Obidos and Torres Vedras (Potugal)

  14. Nice work Timothy. Thanks for doing the poly outlines. I did a map of these for Australia, but it only needed 4 places outlined!

    Missing… Big Bear Lake, CA.

    Also, Santa Cruz, Yuba City and Truckee, CA are showing as white filled polygons.

    I don’t suppose you could do a layer, which just has the poly outlines and not the labels?
    Only because the compete with the normal Labels.
    Or may re-organise the layer into “Outlines” and “Labels” so we can easily check/uncheck one or the other? Just a suggestion.

    Andrew

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Thank you.
      I have implemented your suggestion. It makes it a little harder to look at all the items for one country / state, but it certainly is nice to be able to see only the regions.
      I hope I didn’t loose any places in the process.

      • very nice!

        I assume the idea is to maintain this in sync with the current 3D Imagery layer in Earth.

        You may want to record a “last checked” or “added on” date in the Info section?

        Having time ranges with the layer would be cool so you could see how the 3D Imagery has grown over time. It’s probably too late for the community to do this now.

        May want to investigate sharing this thru Google Maps Engine https://mapsengine.google.com/map/

  15. This is a very helpful kml. Thanks.
    One question: Nuremberg is still not avialable…. I saw a few mouths ago, I found also in the GE buildings in 3d list at Wikipedia (still in the list), but its missing…. 2d again since 2 mounths. Do you know maybe why?

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      It has the older style of 3D buildings. I suspect someone just made a mistake when updating Wikipedia.

      • Nuremberg had auto-generated mesh back in July. The same was true for La Rochelle, Clermont-Ferrand and Nashville. Google seems to withdraw some areas after they’ve been added. Nashville has been withdrawn twice.

  16. Since we – “the googeearthblog community” :) now have the most accurate and out to date list of areas covered by 3D mesh (even better than Wikipedia) don’t let this post disappear (behind next articles). Since we want people to constantly report new 3d areas – let’s make it a front page link!!! (like HOME ABOUT CONTACTS etc…)

  17. City of “Sines, Portugal” the unique city for now having the new 3d in Portugal

  18. The Farmington-Novi area northwest of Detroit has auto-generated imagery, as does the Humble-Spring
    area north of Houston.

  19. Add Fort Worth, TX

  20. This is a very helpful KML, must have took pretty long to make it that detailed :)

  21. The poly outline is missing a chunk of 3d imagery on the peninsula just West of North Richmond (North Bay Area, SF).

  22. Like “bubollofo” said. We should not let this post disappear. Finally we have a complete list of all cities with the new 3D-imagery. I tried this for myself last month but with cooperation between many people we will have a “completed” list that can be updated as soon we see any new 3d-imagery :)
    Dont let this KML be lost!

  23. The Historical Imagery layer has not been updated in weeks. Ridiculous.

  24. Lincolnton, NC Has the 3D Mesh Imagery

  25. Oslo now has bigger coverage than before. PS. I have big blur over half of Oslo city center in my Google Earth (but not in Google Maps) – is just me? Its the only city with this problem. Any tips?

    • Unfortunately, it’s not just you. It appears to be be the Landsat base imagery showing through where there should be 3d imagery. The same phenomenon occurs in two small areas just west of Beaumont, California.

    • I have the blur problem in Oslo as well.

    • I presume I see what you see in Oslo. I haven’t seen anything quite like that elsewhere, but I do occasionally run across spots where the 3D imagery only begins to render, then stops before completing the job. One such area that I can point to is along the Western shores of Lake Lansing, in Michigan (where the amusement part used to be). It’s east and a little north of East Lansing. One tile just never gets beyond the initial rendering phase. It’s surrounded by normal 3D, and not at the edge of the automatically-generated area. The surface of the lake seems to also be treated as a depression.

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Thanks. I too am seeing the blurry patch, which can’t have been there when I did Oslo before, so it must have happened when they expanded the area.

  26. True, Oslo has a bigger covered area now:
    http://i39.servimg.com/u/f39/15/04/82/62/oslo-310.jpg

    I tried to do the same job months ago, but it really is a great deal of work. Thank you Timothy.
    I used a white square to let the 3D data visually pop-up. I don’t know how you did and if it goes quickly than with my method.
    http://i39.servimg.com/u/f39/15/04/82/62/oslo-310.jpg

  27. Timothy Whitehead says:

    I also found odd effects at 48° 8’52.61″N 122°13’53.62″W down the top left side of the Everett / Seattle area. When you are zoomed out, there is clearly 3D imagery, but as you zoom in, some of the 3D imagery disappears. I have not yet checked whether it is only on my computer.

  28. BTW because new 3d cities/areas are being added almost every day – if you want to follow – visit:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Google_Earth&action=history

    These are Google Earth Wikipedia article list of LATEST edits – and 90% of them are NEW 3d cities being constantly spotted and updated by Wiki editors.

  29. Just in: Davis, California.

  30. Also Victorville, CA

  31. Livermore and Salinas CA

  32. More California: the Woodland Hills/Chatsworth/Simi Valley area northwest of Los Angeles.

  33. Expanded coverage north of New york City

  34. They added Milan, Piacenza, Pavia and Syracuse in Italy, and Auxerre, Montpellier, Carcassonne and Strasboug in France

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      I saw the update on the Wikipedia page, but none of those locations appear to be the new type of 3D mesh. Are you referring to the older type of automatically generated buildings, or did they add them temporarily and remove them again, or has the update not reached all users yet?

  35. And also Stavanger, Norway was added.

  36. Norrköping, Sweden was added!

  37. Växjö (Sweden) and Karlstad (Sweden)

  38. Also Auckland, New Zeeland

  39. This has been a big week: Dublin, Ajaccio (Corsica), Oklahoma City and Memphis (TN).

  40. Timothy Whitehead says:

    I will be adding Bordeaux, France, the first location I have actually found on my own!
    And Clermont-Ferrand, Albi, Roanne, Tarbes, Vannes, all in France.
    Antwerp, Belgium.

  41. Timothy Whitehead says:

    Also thanks to Wikipedia editor Uricm55 for Montauban, France.

  42. Stuttgart, Germany was added today!

  43. Esbjerg must have been also added today, I checked it yesterday and there has been no mesh.

  44. Bergen, Norway did it too today! :-)

  45. Anton Rudolfsson says:

    Goiânia, Brazil. I dont know whether there are new imagery or not. Maybe we have missed it from another update.

  46. Anton Rudolfsson says:

    Albacete, Spain

  47. Hi again, Timothy!, a new one, Santarem in Portugal.

  48. They added Ravena in Italy

  49. Anton Rudolfsson says:

    Brive-la-Gaillarde, France
    Beauvais, France
    Saint-Quentin, France

  50. The northern part of Sardinia (Italy) has been updated, looks like a quite large area containing La Maddalena, Palau, Cannigione and others.

  51. San Francisco got new mesh and the area increased a bit, covering now also Bonita Cove and Rodeo Cove

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Thanks. Is there any way to tell which bit got new mesh?

      • Dont know, I just realised its new in the northern parts of city centre (from Golden Gate Park towards north), quality seems to be improved. Southern parts still have the “old” mesh. I dont think there is a possibility to switch between old and new. Google doesnt seem to inform much about, unfortunately…

  52. And newly discovered: Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy)

  53. bubollofo says:

    haha…they didn’t even cover all Western-European capital cities – but they did San Francisco second time – google logic.

    • Someone in Mountain View is paying attention – Berlin has been added. I’m a bit surprised; I thought Warsaw and Stockholm would appear first, since there was oblique imagery for those cities in Google Maps last summer, and there wasn’t for Berlin. The coverage area for Berlin is good, too (unlike London).

  54. ChrisAjayi says:

    Visalia, Porterville, Selma. All in California

  55. Don’t know how you figure out new areas, but my “trick” is to be in a viewing distance of 30-50 km and then constantly turning on and off the 3d buildings layer while slowly moving with the space navigator (you also could move the globe and keep it constantely rolling while turning the layer on and off). As Google is using different ground imagery for the 3D mesh, you can easily see if there is one.

    • That’s a good trick.
      In addition to your trick, I use a kml file with a 120° super wide field of view. With it, you can see a lot more at a time.

      • That sounds interesting Sebastien, can you tell more about that kml?

        • Sebastien says:

          It’s very easy: record a tour via the camcorder icon in the upper bar. This tour doesn’t need to move or even last a second, just start and stop it. Save it to the GE side bar normaly. Save the tour by right-clicking it to your desktop as a KML file (not KMZ), then open the kml file with Notepad. Just replace in this line below the 59 value by 119 (keep the .999999999999) and save.
          59.99999999999999

          For tasks where a wide view is usefull like in this thread, I use 119°.
          For everyday navigation, I found 89 to be pleasant. Everything above can mess with your brain :)

        • Sebastien says:

          Sorry, the line is this one:
          gx:horizFov>89.99999999999999</gx:horizFov

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      What I do is draw a polygon over the whole continent with a yellow fill and 50% opacity. Then when you are over a 3D area and low enough altitude, it shows through the polygon very clearly. However I need to be at an eye altitude of under 10km so your method may allow faster coverage.

  56. Berlin and parts of Potsdam (Germany) have been added today :-)

  57. As I could see from Wikipedia I also confirm Freiburg (Germany)

  58. Anton Rudolfsson says:

    Osaka (Japan) has the new 3D-imagery. I am not sure whether it was added now or weeks ago.

  59. Nuremburg (Germany) returned in 3D

  60. And new areas between Orlando and Loughman (Florida), including the Disney World resort.

  61. bubollofo says:

    Le Mans

  62. The newly added northern parts of San Francisco have been why-so-ever removed.
    The same happended to Nuremberg (Germany) some weeks ago, before it reappeared this week.

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