[EDIT 2008: Google removed the ability to open the GEC layer folder so all the placemarks appear under the same layer. The placemarks are still useful, but it makes it harder to view the information in a categorized fashion and reduce the clutter. Hopefully they will return to a more organized sub-layer format.]
[EDIT January 31, 2006: changed the story to reflect the current name of this layer: Google Earth Community Layer, and to reflect some of the improvements to the clutter problem.]
Layers are the links to Google Earth’s databases of place marks including dining locations, roads, railroad tracks, etc. Right now, many of the layers of data are pretty much confined to the US (although many countries have the Roads layer and Airports layer). Over time they will add other countries to the different layer types.
Some beginning users are slow to notice the Google Earth Community (GEC) layers. These layers simply a database of placemarks which were posted by people in the forums with a link back to the post if you open the placemark. As people discover things, they post a placemark about it at the Google Earth Community. Then a month or so later, Google processes these placemarks and adds them to the GEC layers.
When you select the Google Earth Community layer, and start zooming in to areas, you will see these blue “i” icons appear and labels naming the place mark. They mark points of interest to people who have posted in the forums. You can click on the “i” icon and see a link to the post (usually it says “more”). This links you to the post and possibly more details about that placemark.
The GEC layer can be a truly unique and interesting way to learn things about places all over the Earth. I highly recommend you try it out. You will learn things you never knew about places all over the world, or just find interesting things captured by the satellite photos and aerial photography used in Google Earth (like military jets in flight).
Since Google Earth was released, the Keyhole/Google Earth Community has grown by leaps and bounds. When this layer was first created there were probably a few hundred place place marks. Right now, there are probably over several hundred thousand, and it’s only going to grow. There are several threads of discussion about the growing clutter of the GEC Layer (see this one for example). Many people are making posts in the database pointing out the same thing (I think there are 10 posts about the US National Monument already). Some ambitious people are creating place marks of every building in their town or city. Several cities already appear very cluttered when you turn on this layer.
[EDIT: 6-November-2005 – Google has added a new layer called “Google Earth Community (unranked)” which stores a lot of the less-effective placemarks. And has added some sub-folders to the main GEC layer to help give you more control over what placemarks you see.]
The Google Earth database people have posted that they are working on the issue. It’s safe assume that the masters of a huge database like Google will come up with some good solutions to the growing problem. Perhaps they will break down the layer according to topic types in the forums [yes, they did this], or maybe they will use the ranking system. I hope they do something before they update the next database. In the last 30 days there were about 40,000 new posts on the web site.
But, even with the clutter, I highly recommend you use the GEC layer and learn more about the world and use it to find interesting or exciting new places.
About Frank Taylor
Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.
my google earth is not displaying a keyhole BBS in the layers, any suggestions?
Frank Taylor says
The Keyhole Community BBS Layer was renamed on November 4, 2005 to “Google Earth Community”, since Keyhole is the old name of the application.
John Hurleston says
I’m interested in making the buidings for a town in Spain, but first its necesery to take the detailed picture of the town. The town is called “San Pedro de Alcantara” in Marbella, in the provice of Malaga.
How can we get the detailed map of Marbella and San Pedro so I can start.
I’m also interested in having a layer, How can this be achieved.
Does anyone know of the existance of a uk cellphone basestation location layer for Google Earth ?
can i get detailed map of my home town kulti,india.
I am a relative beginner to Google Earth. When I first started a couple of months ago, a particular site in my neighbourhood showed a building site in the process of becoming the block of flats it now is.
However, it now shows the site as it was – complete with the old building that was demolished to create the building site seen previously.
I do not understand the process where backward steps such as this occur, and will really appreciate enlightenment!
Constantine Koumenides says
Well I was wondering if the Google Earth Team would be able to make a whole Aerial Image of all of Cyprus, I see aerial images in the U.S.A of entire states and Cyprus is not too big, I was wondering if that would be possible, Google Earth already has alot of the Island on Aerial Imagery, maybe it would be possible to have one big image of the whole island.
I have a problem with Google Earth Community Layer in my downlode there is no community showcase & google earth community(rankerd)
How I can save a entire layer to my places, for example I will travel to new york and I want to export in KML all MTA stations that appears in google earth but I don´t know how to do it.
I know one by one but I would like to know if there are any other way, save all only with a few clicks.
constantine koumenides says
I am upset because almost the entire European Union has roads on google earth and even Japan, Australia and Turkey do as well and I am just curious if there is some type of problem with finding the Cyprus Road data base because its not like its a huge country, it can’t be hard to find the Roads for Cyprus too, I hope the next update has roads for cyprus
Check out this tutorial on how to create custom layers and maps for Google Earth. You can export your custom vector, raster and elevation data!
Jim Sibley says
How do you trim down what you see in the “Community Earth” layer? For example, all the airplane in flight listings are obviously obsolete (if fact, they were obsolete seconds after the picture was taken). While exploring England, I don’t need to see every gun bunker. In some case, there are an excessive number of pointers around a popular site as every Tom, Dick, and Harry marks it. I assume these are separate layers. Why can’t I sort throught the layers I want. At the rate things are going,with the Community Earth enabled, you won’t be able to see the earth.
Orrin Clayton says
My Google Earth screen always shows a small ‘hand’ that wanders all over the screen and sometiges interferes with the mouse pointer. How can I get rid of the ‘hand’ or make it useful and controlable?
It always appears to be night time on my Google Earth. How can I change this?
In my google earth, I want to mark a few places that the other google earth users can see, how can i do this pls help!
Tom Alex says
I created a set of Places in GE on my desktop computer and want to transfer them to my laptop. Is there a direct way to transfer these files?
If the files must be posted to GE community, is there a way to post them, retrieve them on my laptop, then promptly delete them from GE Community once they have been transferred.
These are secure locations that should not be posted in a location that is open to the public.
roger pratt says
how do you highlight or show railroad tracks?
Is there any way of securing a greater definition for a particular place. For example, in the north west Cameroons the district headquaters town of Wum can be viewed virtually at street level whereas the district headquaters town of Nkambe is merely a white blob seen from several hundred meters. Who can one approach to secure the higher definition for Nkambe.
I want to create my own layer how do i do that?