New Google Earth layers suggestion: What’s that image?

Over the last few posts we have been having a look at Google Earth’s new layers that make up the new ‘Voyager’ layer:
‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer
‘Earth View landscapes’ layer
‘Street View highlights’ layer
‘3D cities’ layer

Today, we would like to suggest a new layer to Google that would fit well in the Voyager layer. The new layer we are thinking of would feature Placemarks around the world highlighting interesting things that can be seen in specific images. We are not thinking of the sort of things that Google Earth users can find for themselves and make collections of, as such collections already exist on the Google Earth Community, which already has its own layer (found in the Gallery layer). Instead, we are thinking of particular events for which satellite or aerial imagery was specially captured, but may not at first be obvious to the casual user.

Google adds imagery to Google Earth for two basic reasons. The first and most common, is to improve coverage and provide a history of coverage with ‘historical imagery’. The second is when there is something of particular interest in the imagery. This type of imagery is often fairly easy to pick out, as it consists of poor quality imagery, such as containing high levels of cloud cover, or being in black and white, and often there will be a number of images of a particular place over a short space of time.

The best examples of this type of imagery are the images showing tornado damage in the USA. For examples see this post and you can find the locations in Google Earth using this KML file.

We have found other examples by using DigitalGlobe’s ‘First Look’ coverage map. However, it can be quite tedious to find each location in Google Earth and then check whether Google has obtained the specific imagery.

A black & white image featuring the Isle of Wight Festival on June 11th, 2015 – discovered via DigitalGlobe’s first look map

We recently came across an image of Paris, captured on June 3rd, 2015. The image is in black & white and has high levels of cloud cover. We strongly suspect it contains something of particular interest, but we don’t know what. Google, however, presumably knows what is to be seen in the imagery they add. Otherwise they wouldn’t be adding poor quality imagery to the database.

So, to give an example of a few of the types of Placemarks we would expect to see in such a layer, see this KML file.

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.


  1. June 3. in Paris was the Quarterfinals in the French Open at Roland Garros. You can see it behind a cloud.

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