The City of Portland, Oregon’s GIS (Graphical Information System) team just announced public availability of their KML (GE compatible) files allowing access to several layers of GIS data for their city. This includes things such as crime statistics, zoning, earthquake data, flood plains, and a lot of other useful data.
The neat thing is that these are network layers and are based on your current view of the city. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but you zoom to the area of Portland you are interested in, and a couple of seconds later an image loads showing that layer’s data. You need to turn off a layer (click on it’s checkmark box in the Places box), before loading another one or things become confusing.
So, you can go to their web site at: www.portlandmaps.com/google.cfm.
If you’re just curious, I suggest scrolling down on this page and viewing their screenshots, and clicking on the corresponding KML file for the layer that interests you. Or you can click here to see the Zoning layer shown here.
This is yet another example of serious business applications using Google Earth as the visualization tool.