Google Earth Road Layers Falling Behind

For some reason, the Google Earth Road layers haven’t been staying synchronized with Google Maps. The only exception in the last few months I’m aware of is when Japan was added to both in September. During the last few months, Google Maps has added detailed road maps for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Brasil. None of these locations are available with detailed road maps in Google Earth. I guess the process to convert road layer information into the vector format needed for GE is requiring more work. Either that or there are some sort of licensing issues. But, Google isn’t saying what the issue is – I’ve asked. At least residents in these locations can turn to Google Maps – however, on another rant: Google Maps still doesn’t provide a button to view the current location in Google Earth! Why is that?

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.


  1. also, the maps served using the google maps api are old than those served at both in the map data & the satelite imagery.

  2. João Castro says:

    Hi Frank!
    That’s quite a issue there.
    I’ve been wondering the same everytime Google updates their imagery on G.Earth.
    Maybe now that you talked about it on your blog, due to your amazing work, and from what i can tell (Google gives credit to your work :D), changes might happen…
    Thank you for your dedication to GE 🙂

  3. Might we somehow organize a community-created Google Maps page? One that does a better job of interpreting KML files? One that has the link button you would like to see? Or is this job best left to Google? Just a thought…

  4. Amen, brother. Especially when viewing more rural areas here in Australia, I’m aching for the detailed road maps in Google Maps to appear in Earth. I often have to open them side-by-side to get the right coordinates when geotagging my photos using Google Earth and Picasa.

  5. Bill, there are several public Google Maps mashups which have links to KML (my favorite is which also has URL-based capability to go straight to GE). But, it is my opinion that Google Maps and Earth should be better integrated. It seems totally wrong that you can’t go from one to the other – built-in. And, that only scratches the surface. All of the Google products should be better integrated.

  6. Frank, I am living in Cairo and no good maps of the whole of the city are available. Are you aware of any good maps. Can I help to create a map (using GE)?

  7. kavitha says:

    I am doing research in the field of remote sensing and GIS, i want to know – shall we convert the data layers in google earth like roads layer to shapefile format,
    Is it possible, if means what method

  8. Frank, Do you or others know where I can find either Google earths rural mexico roads layer or another source for rural roads? I am also interested in high res photography for northern MX; if someone knows of a source… I need the data to do sampling designs for grassland birds.

  9. Great piece.. wondering though whether the ones in east africa can be mapped as well..we have many of those roads here..

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