News Roundup – Microsoft and KML, Minnesota Bridge, New Competition, and more

I returned from my sailing holiday on early Friday. Expect to see a Google Earth summary of the trip in a few days. Since I was without Internet access for most of the trip, I have had a daunting amount of E-mail, comments, RSS feeds, and other news sources to read through. This news roundup highlights some of the more interesting GE-related news items I’ve missed reporting. All below the fold:

  • Microsoft and KML – Peter Batty notes on his Geothought blog that at GeoWeb 2007, a Microsoft speaker stated that Microsoft Virtual Earth will be supporting KML in a September/October release. This is really good news, and will definitely boost Google’s efforts to get KML accepted as an open standard. If Microsoft does a thorough implementation, it will greatly enhance the available geospatial content for Virtual Earth – since there are millions of KML files out there. What I hope doesn’t happen is that they try to extend KML with their own features in a non-standard fashion (like they did in the early days of the browser wars).

  • Minnesota Bridge – Google’s geospatial products were used by the media last week in the aftermath of the Minnesota bridge disaster. I saw Google Earth being used by CNN, and Google pointed out numerous user-generated maps done with Google Maps related to the bridge. These maps included: Photos, links to news articles, meeting point locations, contact information for nearby hospitals, and prayer service schedules. Someone even loaded a rough 3D model of the I-35W bridge (before it collapsed) into the 3D Warehouse.

  • New Competition – Google has announced a new 3D Campus Competition – this time for students of campuses in Australia and New Zealand. Here is an overview of how to enter. I guess Google will offer competitions around the world, one region at a time. See details on the winners of the first competition for the US and Canada.

  • Michael Jones News – Michael Jones is the Chief Technologist of Google Earth, and was one of the founders of KeyHole (which built the original application). Michael is an interesting speaker, and he certainly did a lot of traveling during July. He was at the GEC moderators camp on July 4th in Washington, DC. He had a paper published in IEEE in early July. I mentioned recently how he spoke at Cambridge in the UK. He also was interviewed recently by Government Computer News. On July 27 he gave a keynote speech at GeoWeb 2007 in Vancouver which you can watch or listen to on their keynote recordings page. The Vancouver Sun published a story on the same day that the British Columbia provincial government is in the final stages of working out a deal with Google to provide updated information for Google Maps and Google Earth. Michael is quoted as saying that the city of Nanaimo “… is the most active city in the world when it comes to supplying geographic data to Google Earth” (via the MapRoom). I’m sure Michael went to even more places last month. It would be really interesting to see a Michael Jones tracker in Google Earth. 🙂

  • SketchUp Tutorials – As recently mentioned, a book is now available called “Google SketchUp For Dummies“. The author has also released over 60 video tutorials on YouTube. If you are interested in those, you should also look at the SketchUp Tutorial DVD from Go-2-School. via DigitalUrban.

  • GE 3D Model on ESPN – A 3D model for Google Earth of the stadium where David Beckham’s first game for LA Galaxy was played was shown on ESPN recently. The Home Depot Center Stadium was modeled by the Blue Marble Project.

  • GuiWeather News – The GuiWeather guys continue to do great things with weather for Google Earth. They recently released some great tools for tracking storms. And, they’ve just announced a deal where ABC News will be using their Google Earth content on Good Morning America and World News Tonight. First, some tools for viewing paths from Atlantic Hurricanes from 1851 to the present, next a file for viewing current tropical storms world-wide, and finally a way to view data from recent storm reconnaissance flights in Google Earth. See these and more on their KML Warehouse page.

  • ImageAmerica – You may remember a lot of people were speculating on why Google purchased ImageAmerica a couple of weeks ago. Well, Avi Bar-Ze’ev gives made some very credible analysis on his blog RealityPrime. He believes the acquisition is largely about the patented camera technology ImageAmerica developed. His analysis is that the camera would enable a more efficient way to both acquire imagery and convert it for use in Google Earth. And, he believes the same technology could be used in things like StreetView. I think he may be right. Nice work Avi!

  • OgleEarth Stuff – Stefan pointed out a nice collection of KML conversion tools at Zonum Solutions, and a handy map coloring tool. The same OgleEarth post points out lots of other interesting info. Stefan seemed much busier with OgleEarth during my absence than he has been in recent months. Good stuff!

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Try for a google based map of bridges in the US.

  2. I’m writing (via comments on the most applicable article) to ask if anyone has created a community layer associating publicly available federal infrastructure data with US bridges. This would then be available to help plan commutes and make informed decisions. Transparency, in this setting, would be a public good.
    If anyone does create such a layer, please email me at I’d be willing to enter data on the worst bridges in the twin cities metra area — for example.

  3. sambrown says:

    ‘Mashup’ was originally used to describe the mixing together of musical tracks to create a new piece of music. The term now refers to Web sites or services that weave data from different sources into a new data source or service.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.