A week or so ago I saw some stories in the blogosphere about the town of Westport in Ireland getting a 3D version of itself in Google Earth to be released on January 16th. The stories said things like “Westport to be the first complete city in Google Earth”. I didn’t report on it because there were a lot of stories saying it was the first, which is not right. There are already some pretty impressive 3D models of large cities like Berlin, Denver, Las Vegas, Hamburg, Dresden, and even places like Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Anyway, I went and looked today, and sure enough if you search for “Westport, Ireland” in GE and turn on the “3D Buildings” layer it will begin loading a number of 3D models for the town. These buildings have high resolution photo textures which let you see and read signs on the fronts of stores, and even see merchandise in some of the windows. This also means they will take up a lot of memory, so make sure you have a good graphics card in your computer. Other interesting techniques in the collection is a detailed terrain base model for the town with the streets and sidewalks also textured and modeled. Even the bridges and water in a river are modeled.
According to some of the blog entries from last week, the models were created by AMT3D. The current models in GE are not a complete rendering of the town. It appears only a few blocks of three of the main streets are available at the moment. screenshots from the website of the modelers show they have more models available. So, I’m not sure why the GE version is not more complete. And, some of the other cities in Google Earth like those mentioned above have even more impressive collections of 3D buildings (both in terms of size and architecture).
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.
yes, thats the beginning of how we browse the world 🙂 but there seem to be some major improvements needed to satisfy the curious finger lying around the SpaceNavigator’s cap. Buildings are loaded (where I look at) ….. if I am a bit of patient, I can wait for the first textures. At the latest now I cannot wait descending into the street and flying to the next street crossing, turning right, looking down the [important street], fly a bit further and look at the restaurant I found yesterday…
Are the models present at the next crossing with your computer/internet link? I am disappointed, how long I need to wait for a screenshot-like view of a camera flight… Is is the internet speed or the processor? Graphic card or RAM in the computer? Or improvable technique of “getting this where you look at” of 3d objects?
Are there hints for optimizing a computer for “fast-surfing” GE users? perhaps for increasing the cache above 2G or cache management like “keep 10G of 3d data for Berlin on USB Flash”?
You should be here in Ireland, looking and listening to the media. You would think that westport 3D was the next best thing.
But would you rather visit Berlin or Hamburg after viewing their 3d Models.
Westport is a lovely small town and what makes it even better is all the trees and flowers at the height of summer. That is what is missing from this model.
If you want a better view of Westport turn on the panaramio layer.
I think the photorealistic facades are very impressive. It should be borne in mind that this is a small rural town and the architecture would be hundreds of years old representative of the Georgian period and would have been built when Ireland was under British rule. While the building types may not be very varied or detailed, you can be sure that they are all protected by law for their old architectural qualities, as old streets like that are getting rarer. You simply would not be allowed to replace them with more modern architecture as that would be deemed to damage the character of the old streetscape, which is valued. The larger Irish towns and cities would be quite different, as you will see from the few 3D buildings in Dublin which has much more cosmopolitan architecture. Having visited Westport before I think it is a great replica of what the town is like and I think the high resolution photo quality is the best thing about it as I think some of the other 3D urban centres in GE look a bit like Sim City, but in the case of Westport is almost photographic as it has caught every detail of the facades. I think this extra detail is great an a huge step forward from very detailed architectural models with mediocre texturing. I think the challenge for GE going forward over time will be to mix the photorealistic quality of the small town of Westport with the intricate architecture of an international city.
How would a facility manager who would like to submit high quality 3D imagery of their building to google earth go about doing so?
billy obrien says
i have spent the last 20 minutes trying to see a satelite photo of dublin ,ireland docks but to no avail,i dont know what you are doing with your w/site but it is a waste of time trying to find anything lately,i foung it no problem in the past .regards bobrien
Ivan @ Jobs-Ireland.ie says
It would be interesting if a local T0urist Board would measure what impact does it have on the numbers and profiles of the tourists to Westport.
The importance of Google Earth has increased as it presents the pictures in virtual 3D and that does make it so much more informative.