Google Earth imagery updates 2009 to date

In the past, Google would publish a network linked KML file that showed the outlines of imagery releases, including all historical releases going back to 2009. However, early this year they discontinued it and instead have been publishing a map on the Maps Gallery that only shows the latest release. Also, other than taking a screenshot of the maps, there was no way to save them for later viewing.

Now Google have released a map on the Maps Gallery that once again shows us historical releases. Note that it does not currently include the two latest updates from November 3rd, 2014 and November 8th, 2014. It must also be noted that the dates given are not the dates that the imagery was captured, but rather the dates that the imagery was added to the Google Earth database. In many cases the imagery being added is older than previously existing imagery and gets added to historical imagery rather than the default layer.

There is still no way to extract the KML, which makes further analysis difficult. It would have been fun to do heat maps showing which areas received multiple updates.

If we look at all updates from 2009 to October 2014 we see the map below:

Historical imagery

We can see a number of interesting patterns. There is poor coverage over tropical forests, deserts, and northern regions. Tropical forests tend to have cloud cover most of the time, making it difficult to capture imagery with clear skies. Similarly, the northern regions often have snow cover, making it difficult to capture good imagery. It is possible that capturing imagery over deserts is also difficult, or it may simply be that their low populations make them less interesting to imagery providers. Iraq and Afghanistan have received very few updates, presumably for security reasons.

[Update: As pointed out by GEB readers Maarten, Chris and an anonymous email, the ‘Latest Google Earth Imagery Updates’ map has been updated to November 19th 2014.]

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.






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.

Comments

  1. i have a button on them pages with “View in Google Earth” it downloads a KML of the data

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      The KML contains a special network link which opens the data in ‘Layers’. It is impossible to access the actual KML data, save it, or edit it.

      • I have just visited the Maps Gallery and the latest imagery update map is dated 19 November, but I cannot find the cumulative map shown in your screenshot. However, I have retained a couple of the previous single date KMLs as a test of a simple ‘workaround’ and these can still both be viewed (not sure anything further is possible), but the problem is that this seems to be blocking the cumulative map from your link opening in Google Earth! To see the complete map I had to open the usual ‘list’ icon (not visible in your screenshot and check each quarter or year. (Browsing in Safari on iMac.)

        All very puzzling, and frustrating for those who wish to track change shown in imagery.

        • Timothy Whitehead says:

          Search the Gallery for ‘Imagery updates’ or use this link:
          https://maps.google.com/gallery/details?id=z4f-ZuCLmiKg.kOUqLwyEA7qE&hl=en

          Do you single date KMLs all show the new 19th November data, or do they show the date they displayed when you saved them?

          • Many thanks – the search worked, and shows how easy it is to neglect the obvious! This is the map where I have to check the list to see the full set of cumulative updates, but as before it fails to open on GE. Saving single date update maps – one of which shows the 19 November update and the other still shows an earlier update (date does not appear to carry over to the GE version) – was only an experiment so I will delete and see whether the cumulative map opens in GE.

            However, although the Gallery maps give a useful indicator of where to find new imagery, the picture of change is now confusing compared with the previous updates delivered to ‘my places’, and interest is diminished.

  2. Interesting post, I was wondering is there a way of subscribing to an email list to get updates about whenever High Resolution windows are added to GE imagery?

  3. Sorry i see that one can zoom and pan around the real map – thought the map was the image shown. 🙁

  4. Agnes Cordaro says:

    We had built our house in 2009 and don’t know where our septic and drain field is located. So I figured if there is a map on Google Earth we might be able to see it.



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.