Google Earth Surpasses 500 Million – Auto-Geotagging Coming

In a keynote address at the GeoWeb conference last week, Michael T. Jones presented some interesting facts (Michael is the Chief Technology Advocate at Google, and I think he’s a really interesting speaker). Michael also revealed some interesting things about Street View and made a prediction which is quite interesting. First some facts he shared here (starting at about 2:08):

  • 250,000 public websites hosting KML
  • 500,000,000 KML/KMZ files hosted on public web sites
  • 2 Billion placemarks – that’s a lot of places!
  • 500 Million Google Earth activations – After only 4 years since GE was released. Activations are the number of new installs of the program on a new machine (a big distinction from downloads which are much higher than that number). This number is much more representative of the number of users. From here (at 7:30).

Michael also talks about the marriage of Street View and Panoramio photos (see GEB stories here and here). But, Michael goes on to predict (at about 5:52) that in the future it will be possible for people to upload photos to the “cloud” and have photos automatically geotagged. How? By comparing your photo with large repositories of known photos (like Street View and Panoramio) until you find a match. What a concept! Imagine having the cloud compare your photo to billions of other photos to find a match and then tagging the coordinates for where it was taken. I’ll go on to predict that Google will be able to not only auto-geotag, but also position the way the photo was taken and make a GE PhotoOverlay out of them (see some discussion about PhotoOverlays and advanced photo placement).

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. That’s absolutely amazing. What’s even more amazing about Google Earth, and all the related technology actually, is how easily and seemlessly it’s slipped into our lives. Before long, if it hasn’t happened already, we’ll all take it for granted how easy it is to look up any spot on the Earth and zoom right in for a closer look without having to go there ourselves.
    The applications are mind-boggling really. I found myself the other day using GE to follow the course of a river to search for slipways where I can put my boat in the water, finding them and thinking of it as the most normal thing in the world.

  2. And how is skynet coming along?

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