Defense Earmarks in Google Earth

Congressional defense earmarks in Google EarthThe Sunlight Foundation uses Internet technology to help share information about what the elected officials in US Congress are doing with tax payer dollars. Yesterday, USA Today wrote a story about how Sunlight Foundation is using Google Earth to show how Congress is using special directed spending (known as “earmarks”) to send money to projects in their voting areas. They created a Google Earth file with placemarks showing the locations of contracts which fall into this category. Even Google’s geo team thought this was interesting.

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. This is another great idea that suffers from poor locational data. There is a Minnesota National Guard pin in northern Iowa,two University of Nebraska, Lincoln pins 35 miles SE of Lincoln, and the 139th Airlift wing is listed as being in St. Joseph Missouri but the pushpin is in Maryville. Again, GE is a great tool, but inaccurate data devalues the message.

  2. I don’t think it devalues the message, Case, as the message is evident in concept. The inaccuracies only point-out that there’s room for improvement in accuracy.

  3. I found the University of Tennessee in northern Michigan. I agree it does not devalue the mesage to be incorrectly located … but really now!

  4. Bob, Do you agree that the creator(s) of the dataset can make improvements to create more accuracy?
    Do you also agree that the dataset (content) is subject to criticism not related to the geospatial accuracy of Google Earth?
    It’s unfortunate that so many seem to become confused with the two.

  5. If the message is to show “where the money is going” from Congressional earmarks. Then accuracy would be important. The key word is, where.
    If one was looking for their Congress persons earmarks and they were showing up in other states, then one could question what else is wrong. Are the figures right or even the earmarks associated with someone right?
    Yes there is room for improvement. Has the message already been devauled by their first set of errors? Like products, generally, if the first launch goes bad. There isn’t a second chance. In this case, more likely than not, it will be fine in long run.
    A good use of the data thou.

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