The recent update to the Google Earth database puts back the US Capitol Building and the White House which were blurred out in the earlier database. This is apparently in response to the complaints from some worried about how Google Earth photos could be abused by terrorists (despite the fact that all of these photos are readily available from many other sources). I guess Google Earth has taken the position they shouldn’t censor anything if the data is readily available.
Google Earth has just updated their database with new imagery enhancing the resolution for over 100 cities around the world. You can read their announcement at the Google Earth Forums. Like other updates Google has made in the past, there are probably other places updated not in their list. Yet another reason to go exploring Google Earth!
Even if you have never heard of Geocaching, you’ll find the following network link an interesting way to explore the Earth. What is Geocaching? It’s a recreational byproduct of the GPS and the Internet. From the Geocaching FAQ:
The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache.
This is just the beginning, but the guys at GoogleEarthHacks have created a game using Google Earth. This is a war game which they claim is largely text-based. The object is to grow armies which you place at various cities and try to hold the cities. There is a GE KML file which lets anyone view the “action” (more like a status) of the game.
This is the first of many games I’m sure will be created using GE as a visualization tool. I expect to see more direct, or interactive, use of GE to play a game soon.
One of my first serious uses of GE was to examine data from a recent backpacking trip. The backpacking trip was up Mount Wrightson, Arizona and I took my GPS along for the hike. I saved the track and waypoints from the GPS and imported them into GE. Then I superimposed a USGS topgraphical map of the area for further reference. I also added some photos taken during the trip (which I georeferenced using the GPS track and time stamps from the camera).
The result is a GE KMZ file which you can view which really illustrates the backpacking trip. Especially if you use the tilt function (I recommend using your middle mouse button if you have one) to see the rugged terrain of this 4000 foot ascent. You also get an idea just how fabulous the view is from this peak.
By the way, if you turn on “Borders” in GE you can see that the border of Arizona and Mexico is easily viewed from the peak.