Processing 3D imagery

Since September last year we have been keeping track of 3D imagery released by Google, with the help of our readers who spot the imagery and then let us know in the comments of this post. A big thank you to all the GEB readers that have been contributing.

Google Earth does not show imagery dates for 3D imagery. However, it is usually fairly easy to match up 3D imagery with historical imagery in Google Earth to find out what date it was captured. Sometimes the exact same image can be found in historical imagery, but not always. My usual technique for identifying the date is to find a construction site, as they tend to display large scale visible changes over time, and then find the closest matching image in historical imagery. Sometimes there is an exact match, with vehicles and shadows in the exact same place, sometimes there is no equivalent historical imagery and you can only estimate when the 3D imagery was taken. Also keep in mind that the date Google Earth displays for aerial imagery is not guaranteed to be exact

What we have found, for the locations we have looked at, is that Google often takes a year or more between capturing the imagery and releasing it as 3D. In some locations, Google has clearly put a lot of effort into touching up the 3D manually, especially when it comes to bridges, certain historic buildings, some intricate structures and, we believe, even some aeroplanes. However, some of the recent releases have taken a year or two to release, but have no obvious structures that were given special attention. So, we really don’t know what takes so long to process.

The quickest turnaround we have identified so far was the update to New York that was spotted in Google Earth in December, and the imagery appears to be from June last year. Luguano, Switzerland, which was added just a few days ago, seems to be based on imagery from July 2012. For a few of the locations where we have identified imagery dates you can download this KML file.

Westminster Abbey
As with many of the buildings and bridges around London, the flying buttresses and spires of Westminster Abbey must have been manually edited by Google.

Amsterdam
An interesting building in Amsterdam shows signs of manual editing. The 3D imagery was released early this year, but captured some time prior to March 2012.

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. Before the holidays, Apple released the 3D imagery of Budapest. They captures their imagery on last summer. And just after the holidays, Google released their 3D imagery of the city. And there is an area which has not been captured. And this is the same on both imagery. In this case, the problem was a missing permit I think.

  2. bubollofo says:

    So Google already has aerial photos of some cities (taken in 2012) and just waiting to process them automaticly and manually – one by one before release?

  3. Waiting for some more cities in Australia to have them updated, apparently Brisbane is on the list



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.