28 de Febrero 2007
New Imagery for Google Earth / Maps - February 28
[UPDATE 2010: some edits were made to the list and are highlighted in blue.]
[See the YouTube Swiss Alps Flying Tour.]
Here's the scoop from Google on what is new:
- Entire country of Switzerland at 50cm and many Swiss cities at 25cm (thank you, Endoxon)
- Entire country of Switzerland terrain at 10m resolution, Swiss Alps are now high-res!
- Entire country of Denmark at 50cm
- Australia day flyover (Google maps special)
- Cities of France: Lyon; Le Mans; Lourdes; Reims; Nancy; Limoges; Lille; Arles
- Potsdam and Magdeburg, Germany
- Barcelona, Belem, Cape Town, Galapagos (Isabella Island), Manaus, Mt Saint Helens, Recife, Rio, Venice
- Whistler British Columbia
- Full state coverage for Wyoming & Utah
- Cities and counties in the US: Kirkland, WA; 6 counties in Arksansas; Dallas county, IA; Rutherford County, NC; Lancaster County, NE; Johnson County, NC; Lee County, NC;
- significant amounts of new Digital Globe data
Check out OgleEarth's review of the new Swiss Alps data.
By the way, I wanted to point out that a GEB reader named Jonas was the first to point out the new Denmark imagery to me on Feb. 26th. Thanks Jonas!
New Real-time Traffic in Google Maps for USA
Google released today a very useful new overlay for cities in the US showing real-time traffic information for major roads and highways (via GoogleMapsMania). When traffic is available you will see a "Traffic" choice in the upper right next to "Map | Satellite | Hybrid". When zoomed out you also see a little traffic signal placemark icon telling you to zoom in to see traffic details. For example, see the San Francisco traffic. A fair number of larger cities have the data, but not all cities. Oh, and the data is also available in the Google Maps Mobile version (so you can see this on your phone).
This traffic data is not available yet in Google Earth. Hopefully, Google will implement a new sub-layer under "Roads" or "Transportation" in the form of a network link which would show this traffic data in 3D inside GE. But, in the past, specialized road data appearing in Google Maps has sometimes taken quite a while to migrate its way to GE. The advantage to doing it in GE is that the layer could be dynamic. You could sit there and watch the status of the traffic situations change as soon as new data is available if a network link is used inside of GE.
[UPDATE 1735: Here's Google's announcement of the new traffic feature for Google Maps. They say there are more than 30 cities with the data so far.]
News Roundup - Tax Collector, Google Federal, Virtual Worlds Conference
- Tax Collector - An interesting article by Fernando Cassia in Argentina in the Inquirer describes how a tax collector in Argentina has been using Google Earth Pro to catch property owners who haven't been paying taxes. The tax collector was "able to identify 362 undeclared finished houses and 284 construction sites, all spread in four exclusive gated country clubs". This isn't the first time tax collectors have been publicized for using GE - see my blog entry from December of 2005. But, this is the first time some real numbers have been released and a collector has gained such notoriety. I'm sure many tax collectors have been using aerial photography for some time in some countries like the US, but this may get more attention in other parts of the world.
- Google Federal - The Washington Post has an interesting article about Google increasing its push to gain business in the US Government sector. Google is apparently holding a two day sales meeting to promote itself and over 200 government representatives came yesterday. The article highlights the fact that Google Earth is already being used in several parts of the government. And it goes on to say:
For Google's mapping product, doing more business with the federal government is like coming full circle. The technology behind Google Earth, which Google says has 200 million users, got its start in the intelligence community, in a CIA-backed firm called Keyhole. Google acquired Keyhole in 2004.
This is the first time I'm aware of that Google has updated their number from nearly a year ago where they said they had 100 million users - now less than a year later they say they have 200 MILLION!
- Virtual Worlds Conference - There is a conference March 28-29 in New York City called "Virtual Worlds 2007 - The Future of Marketing and Media" which I just discovered. This conference is really focused on ways to capitalize on new thriving virtual world applications like Second Life, World of Warcraft, and There. But, Google Earth has pretty big marketing possibilities even if it is only a virtual globe and not a real virtual world (the key difference being that you can't currently go inside GE and meet up with other people). I'm kind of surprised I don't see any folks from Google in the speaker list, but I'm sure someone will bring up the topic of Google Earth at the conference since there are more users of GE than any of the virtual worlds out there.
Third Party Billboard Advertising in Google Earth
Google has not yet forced 3D model-based advertising into Google Earth. So far, all of Google's ads have been very unobtrusive and only seen when you perform a search for something business related. In fact, until recently ads were only text based. Now they have a few with image logos of companies related to searches like "hotels" - but, the images only appear in placemark descriptions or as very small placemark icons. Google has also promoted meaningful Google Earth layers on behalf of companies who put them together - for example, the National Geographic layers under Featured Content. This is indirect advertising which benefits everyone.
Since Google hasn't done it yet, one company has decided to grab real estate in Google Earth and sell 3D billboard ads to companies. The company is called BrightGIS and they have already uploaded about a dozen 3D models of billboards into the Google 3DWarehouse. Placing them on highways in prominent places around the US. They have chosen to put billboards of normal dimensions with accurate details. Right now, the ads portrayed are to promote their own services "Rent this Space!!". You can try downloading one of these into GE and see for yourself .
This is an interesting concept. But, I'm not sure it is going to work. Unless their billboards get picked up by the "3D Buildings->3D Warehouse->Best of 3DWarehouse" layer, they are unlikely to be seen by many people. Also, they need to work on the technical implementation. You may notice some anomalies, as seen in my screenshot here, with the billboard texture. They probably need to adjust their billboard texture so it is not coincident with the surface of the board. My video card can't decide which surface to display first. Also, they model unnecessary details like ladders and lattice work of the billboards. While this adds realism when zoomed in close, it also adds complexity. And finally, what is to stop some other billboard advertiser from placing a bigger 3D billboard right in front of their billboard? BrightGIS also is offering services to create 3D Models for businesses. Perhaps this billboard thing is a marketing strategy to help gain attention for their other services?
27 de Febrero 2007
World Oil Consumption - 3D Charts in Google Earth
A member of the Google Earth Community, called 'giasen', has posted some really cool 3D charts showing World Oil Consumption in Google Earth. His charts show very nice looking exploding 3D graphs in the shape of each country with different colors. The data comes from the CIA World Factbook. Here are the two version he produced:
- World Oil Consumption by Country - height based on barrel of oil per day
- World Oil Consumption Per Capita by Country
Here are some interesting notes on what he did to produce the "Per Capita" chart:
I had to mess with this data a little bit to get it to show up on google earth. At first I just divided each countries consumption by its population to get per capita but the numbers were so low that they would not show up at all here. Even multiplying per capita use by 365 to get a years worth of data only had the USA using 24 barrels a year per capita. So after I got a figure for a year I also multiplied them all by a factor of 100,000 and so what you are seeing is the data from the CIA factbook in consumption of barrels per day per country divided by the countries current population for per capita and multiplied 36,500,000 times to get its representation in meters of height. I was surprised to see Singapore take the lead in per capita use! The USA comes in only 9th place right ahead of Canada.
27 de Febrero 2007
Australia Day Flyover Imagery in Google Maps
As promised, Google has released the imagery it had taken during Australia Day at the end of January. There were some complications with the flight plan which prevented the plane from being where planned during the day. But, the pilot still flew along several beaches and some of the planned locations at later times during the day. The imagery has been added to Google Maps, but Google Earth doesn't have the update yet (don't worry, I'll let you know when it's in Google Earth). Some of the new imagery is as high as about 3 inches/pixel. Clear enough to make out clothing on people, but not clear enough to see who they are. Here are the locations of some of the imagery in Google Maps:
- Queenscliff Bay
- Shark Bay
- Bondi Beach
- Manly Beach
- Luna Park
- North Bondi
- Helicopter in flight
- Tall Ship
- Fort Denison
- Circular Quay
26 de Febrero 2007
New Video Demos of Latest 3D Buildings for Google Earth
As mentioned a couple days ago, Las Vegas now has a collection of many 3D buildings representing some of the most prominent hotels and casinos on The Strip. I also discovered this weekend that Denver, Colorado - which was already the city with the most 3D textured buildings in Google Earth - now has nearly twice as many buildings added. Here are two YouTube videos demonstrating the new buildings in both these cities:
24 de Febrero 2007
Guatemala City Sinkhole Location Found in Google Earth
A giant sinkhole (over 300 feet deep) swallowed homes and killed at least two teenagers early Friday. The disaster has been reported in the news (see MSNBC story) and apparently was caused by a clogged sewer main. There were recently rains in the area, and residents in the area had been feeling tremors for weeks. The city had even planned investigations, but it was too late.
There were no details on the location in the news reports so far, but I noticed some aerial photos of the area. I went to see if I could find the location in Google Earth's satellite photos. I was surprised, after only a few minutes of searching, to happen upon the actual location ! Fortunately, the street configuration is pretty unique which helped me in the search. If you look at the terrain by tilting your view (use the middle mouse button or shift-down-arrow) you can see the location is at least 200 feet above a creek/river area running north-south just to the east.
[UPDATE 1930: GEC administrator 'Ink Polaroid' posted a special image overlay of the aerial photo to demonstrate how it matches the satellite photo in GE. As you zoom and tilt it fades in/out to show how it matches. Read his post for more details.
23 de Febrero 2007
FedEx Pilots "Smart" Tracking with Google Earth
According to ZDNet, FedEx CIO Robert Carter revealed at the Wharton Technology Conference in Philadelphia a pilot program that FedEx is experimenting with tracking valuable packages with Google Earth. The tracking involves more than just positional information - things like: package's temperature, location, humidity levels and delivery status. The tracking device used in the pilot involves a "wireless device, about the size of a small cell phone, transmits information back to the company over public Wi-Fi networks." For a long time now, I've been expecting one of the big tracking companies (UPS, FedEx, DHL) to release a network link capability to allow individuals to track their packages. But, none has yet to be released. In this case, FedEx is only experimenting with valuable packages. According to FedEx CIO Carter, using Google Earth has saved them considerable money for the tracking. But, whether this will be available anytime soon? He says: "It's still a closed pilot, which is about all I can say."
New 3D Buildings in Las Vegas
The recent layers update included some updates to the "3D Buildings->3DWarehouse" layer for GE 4. GEB reader Duncan Brinsmead sent in a comment saying Las Vegas has new buildings. It does indeed - fly to Las Vegas and turn on the layer. Over 50 models of the hotels and casinos including the Luxor, Paris (with Eiffel Tower), New York-New York, and the Stratosphere tower have been added (before there were only a couple fully textured models in Las Vegas). Almost all of the new 3D buildings were done by an outfit called Concept 3D. Interestingly, Concept3D is based in Boulder, Colorado and certainly has the expertise for doing SketchUp 3D modeling. Apparently the former CFO, two former board members, and a modeler from @Lastsoftware (the company which was bought by Google last year which made SketchUp) banded together and formed this new company which is offering 3D modeling services to "municipalities; home builders, commercial real estate developers; architectural firms; building product manufacturers, and state/federal government entities". Apparently some of these folks didn't want to work for a fast growing company like Google, but apparently they are still on good terms since these sample models were selected as "Best". By the way, don't forget you can still turn on the "Other buildings" and see hundreds of other buildings in Las Vegas in the old more simplistic (non-textured) style.
22 de Febrero 2007
Noticias de SpaceNavigator: Demo de su Interior, Puntos de Seguridad
Rory Dooley, CEO de 3DConnexion quien fabrica el maravilloso SpaceNavigator, recientemente lanzó un video de demostración utilizando un SpaceNavigator que muestra cómo trabaja este dispositivo. Rory vuela a través de uno de sus dispositivos hecho en 3D y nos muestra cómo obtienen - simultáneamente - datos de posición gracias a seis LEDs ubicados en el interior del SpaceNavigator. Hay sensores de luz que detectan el movimiento del capuchón. ¡Grandioso! Vean el video aquí:
Puntos de Seguridad - aquellos de Ustedes que no pueden irse de casa sin su SpaceNavigator ya han descubierto que este dispositivo no es - todavía - muy conocido por el personal de seguridad que utiliza rayos X, por ejemplo en los aeropuertos. El viernes pasado me sucedió que estando en el aeropuerto de Miami, el tipo del escáner de rayos X me paró y me preguntó qué era "eso" en la valija de mi computador. Tuve que pensar un momento y luego le dije: ¡Ah sí!, Es un mouse 3D! Su rspuesta fué: "Sáquelo y muéstremelo". Lo hice asegurándome de que viera su cable USB de conexión y luego me dijo: "Está bien, gracias". Pienso que como el SN tiene una base pesada de acero inoxidable se ve negro en la pantalla de rayos X cuando se lo mira desde abajo. La semana pasada Jordi Lopez de Wikiloc tuvo el mismo incoveniente, como así también Stefan Geens (hoy mismo) -sólo que el personal de seguridad que paró a Stefan se interesó muchísimo y quería obtener uno!
- Anuncio de las habilidades del SpaceNavigator
- Video YouTube que muestra al SpaceNavigator en uso con Google Earth
NASA Releases More Earth Data for Google Earth
NASA continues to add some great visualizations for overlaying in Google Earth. This time they have added some data again from MODIS (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). As recently reported, you can get near real-time color imagery of the entire Earth viewable in GE4. Now, they have released more full-globe imagery which show different scientific data. All the data is the most recent data processed by NASA. Available are:
Note: make sure you turn off or delete each image overlay from your "Temporary Places" when you are finished viewing it. Here is the web page at NASA highlighting this new data. Look for the "View in Google Earth" link when viewing the datasets. The image shown in the screenshot above is of Sea Surface Temperatures averaged for the month of January, 2007. Thanks NASA for implementing more support for Google Earth, keep it coming!
Other interesting NASA data:
21 de Febrero 2007
Google Earth Advertising Gets More Credibility
CNNMoney has just published (from Business 2.0) an article discussing how Google Earth (and other virtual globes) can be used successfully for advertising. The featured example is a campaign by Saturn for their car the Aura. They did a test with 6 regions last fall, which you can try here. In this case, they use video clips which show you flying into the selected dealership using Google Earth. GE enabled them to make many videos showing customized flying tours more quickly. According to the Business 2.0 article, the test campaign resulted in millions of visits and over 1000 test drive requests. This was significant enough that they plan to expand the campaign to a larger number of dealerships.
Examples of other ad campaigns done with Google Earth:
- Mission Impossible III
- British Army on Everest
- Adidas FIFA World Soccer Promotion
- Discovery Channel
- King Kong DVD promotion
- Fiat Torino Olympics promotion
- National Geographics
Google Earth Tutorials - Making 3D Poloygons, GE Pro Movie Making
The Using Google Earth blog by Googler John Gardiner has published two new blog entries. First he provides some brief instructions on how to create a simple 3D structure in Google Earth by using the "Add->Polygon" feature (I created a simple model of the pentagon in 30 seconds using this technique). John also announced availability of a new tutorial for how to create movies using "Movie Maker" module in GE Pro. For a list of GE tutorials by Google available so far, go here.
If you are interested in making movies using Google Earth, but don't have the Pro version, there are two options I can recommend: 1) if you have a video camera you can simply take shots off the screen, or 2) you can buy FRAPS (Windows) for $37 which does a good job. There are probably options for the Mac as well (anyone care to comment?). The GE Pro option definitely has some nice features and works on the Mac right out of the box.
- Tutorials on SketchUp to Google Earth
- Example of video done with GE Pro - (Note: Compressed by YouTube - the original version looks much better)
- Example of video taken with video camera
20 de Febrero 2007
National Geographic on Elephant Poaching - Google Earth Presentation
National Geographic has just published an article for the March issue called "Ivory Wars - Last stand in Zakouma" by Michael Fay (the same guy who flew over Africa and took the aerial photos you can see inside Google Earth with the MegaFlyover sub-layer). This moving article also has a well-done detailed Google Earth presentation which I highly recommend.
Simply download the Ivory Wars for GE (GE 4 required). There is a lot to explore here. There are many photos, links to more information on the web site, placemarks where poached elephant carcasses were found, shapes and borders indicating the boundary of the protected areas, and much more. For example, open the folder called "Annie's Journey" (the name of an elephant they followed using a GPS for 3 months and who was killed by poachers). Select the folder called "Annie and full track". This is a time-stamped track. If you slide the time-slider you can follow the track of the elephant. Turn on other sub-folders to see more information. Click on the placemarks to see descriptions and photos.
There are several interesting tours you can take. Select the "Photo Videos" folder and set your "Tools->Options->Touring->Show balloons when tour is paused" on. Then select "Play Tour" (under the Tools menu) and you will see lots of interesting photos while touring the area.
This is one of the best Google Earth presentations I've seen in a long time. Not surprising considering Michael Fay also contributed some of the best content (the Megaflyover imagery) for Africa already. Thanks to one of the team members for the GE project, Keene Haywood, for letting me know about the new work. Great work guys!
19 de Febrero 2007
Collection of Outdoor Mazes Found in Google Earth
I've previously written about a collection of placemarks showing geometric designs drawn in crop fields popularly known as "crop circles". An even more popular past time is creating large mazes in fields - both in crops and the European time-honored tradition of garden hedge mazes. You can see many examples of mazes in the satellite and aerial photos of Google Earth. There is a collection of placemarks dedicated to mazes maintained by 'AmericanXplorer13' at the Google Earth Community in this thread of posts. The collection is organized by maze type, region, country, and state. But, you can immediately find the locations by just double clicking on the placemarks. The screenshot here shows a maze with a message and a very clear picture - if you're viewing it from above (find it by loading the collection above and looking in Colorado for "God Bless America cornfield"). Check out the very visible URL of this maze: Fritzlermaze.com. Nice advertisement!
[UPDATE 1430: By the way, this maze used to be a bald eagle design with the words "God Bless America". But, the satellite photo was updated to another year so it now shows the design shown in the screenshot here. Here is a thumbnail of what it looked like before from GoogleSightseeing.com.]
18 de Febrero 2007
More Details on New Layers/Updates
Rather than trying to deduce all the updates to the layers this time, I asked the GE team what were the layers updated this weekend. Here are the details:
- 64x64 Icons - overhaul of icons to move from 32x32 to 64x64, also new styles for the layer icons
- As reported yesterday, new Australia detailed roads, and they also say New Zealand
(but, I'm not seeing this yet)[UPDATE Feb. 20 at 1630: The New Zealand roads feature officially did not make this update. Official Google word: "Coming soon...". My guess is this means a month or so when the next layer update occurs. ]
- Tokyo Broadcasting System: UNESCO World Heritage Sites (in Japanese, only launched in Japanese client)
- Brazil Parks, including Football (Soccer)
- Tracks4Africa - added new sub-layers "Special Places" and group under new " Outdoor Activities" folder
- Also updated:
- Best of 3DWarehouse - more buildings added
- Best of Google Earth Community: approximately 300 new features
- Panoramio: now nearly 400,000 photos
- Google Earth Community
- Turn Here: City Video Guides
- Digital Globe coverage
News Roundup: New Icons, Michael Jones on Search, Google Acquisition, Competition
- New Icons - GEB reader Frederic pointed out to me that as part of the recent layer update, Google has new icon designs for many of the layers. They are subtle changes in shapes and colors, but if you regularly use GE you'll probably notice the difference if you look closely.
- Michael Jones on Search - Google Earth Chief Technologist Michael Jones is certainly excited by the new Google Earth Place Search capability. And, I agree with him it is a significant new capability within GE. Directions Magazine's Adena Schutzburg was first to get an interview with Michael on the subject. OgleEarth also asks Michael some good "questions. Michael explains there is a PlaceRank system which is somewhat different from the Google Search PageRank system. Michael also addresses the issue of "place spam" and explains Google will use its extensive experience in dealing with this like it has with its web page search results.
- Google Acquisition - Late Friday it came out that Google was acquiring an in-game advertising company called AdScape Media. Read a good summary of the speculation on what this might mean from the San Jose Mercury News. The top rumor is that Google may be developing it's own virtual world like Second Life (read my article "Third Life - Google's Next Step?"). Of course, since Microsoft bought the largest in-game advertiser and makes its own games, many are saying Google is covering its ground to make sure it continues to expand its advertising prowess by moving into the gaming world. Fewer are mentioning that Google may also use this technology to expand its advertising repertoire into GE. I hope this doesn't mean we'll get billboard ads in Google Earth like what Microsoft is doing in VE3D.
- Competition - The Fifth International Symposium on Digital Earth has announced the "International Digital Earth 3D Visualization Grand Challenge". The concepts of the challenge are pretty grand. It seems they want someone to show the best application to use a 3D virtual earth representation for the purpose of communicating how our world is changing due to environmental and human influences. The prize is an all expense paid trip to San Francisco where the ISDE conference is being held this June. In reading the concept of the contest, it seems to me the best Digital Earth application currently in the world for winning is Google Earth. Is there any other answer? If Google wins this contest, I guess ISDE's prize of an all expense paid trip to the conference will be pretty cheap. :-)
17 de Febrero 2007
Geographic Web Layer Updated Today
Today Google updated the Geographic Web layer. In particular, the Panoramio photo placemarks sub-layer has over 4 times as many photos (from 80,000 to over 400,000). Because of the increased exposure since the Geographic Web Layer came out, thousands of people have loaded more photos for places all over the world. Check out Eduardo's blog post with details about the update (Eduardo is one of the founders of the Panoramio service). Eduardo says they hope to update more frequently (the last update was early January), but they have been growing so fast they have been dealing with scalability issues. I just did a spot check and there are indeed a lot more photos to peruse. I haven't yet confirmed whether the Best of GEC and Wikipedia sub-layers were also substantially updated. I'll try to get some details next week.
Australia Has Detailed Roads in Google Earth
At last! After months of waiting, Google has migrated the detailed road maps they had in Google Maps into the Google Earth layer for roads. A week or two ago, we had a clue this was coming when some GEB readers pointed out the driving directions were available for Australia - just no visible layer. Today the layer finally was released. Both Australia and New Zealand roads were added at about the same time to Google Maps last fall. Since in GE the sparse roads for New Zealand are now completely missing, I suspect New Zealand will soon have detailed roads as well.
One thing which will probably take a bit longer for this region are the other points of interest layers (like Parks, Lodging, Dining, etc.). Once they have added those layers this regions will be more on a par with the US and Europe.
16 de Febrero 2007
Virtual Earth 3D Buildings vs. Google Earth
Last week Nathan Weinberg wrote at his InsideGoogle blog comparing Google Earth's 3D model of the Miami SuperBowl Stadium verses the one in Microsoft's Virtual Earth 3D (VE3D). He made some pretty negative comments about Google Earth's 3D models. So, I posted a comment that he should look at the 3D buildings in Denver for Google Earth to make a fair comparison of the capabilities. Nathan has now posted his new review of Denver in 3D in both GE and VE3D and he gives it a pretty fair comparison. He says Google Earth's 3D buildings do look really nice in Denver. He subjectively concludes VE3D and GE are a tie when it comes to Denver. There are a couple of technical details which I believe make Google Earth's buildings look better, but in the final analysis I agree with Nathan on a key point: Google did indeed use some of its own people to create the Denver building collection. This hand-made approach does not scale well if you want every city in the world to have 3D buildings. Google has been providing the free Google SketchUp 3D modeling tool and allowing people to upload the models to their 3DWarehouse. This is working well for the larger and more interesting buildings around the world, but won't work for all the rest of the buildings in the cities. I'm sure Google is well aware of this reality.
I understand from Microsoft that some of their buildings are hand made as well. But, the bulk are not. Microsoft's approach is to take multiple aerial photos and using photogrammetry to calculate the size and shape of buildings and extract 3D building models and then use the photos to texture them. Microsoft's huge investment to acquire and develop the technology, buy the camera assets, hire teams of aerial photographers to collect the data, and the storage and processing costs will ultimately enable them to create building models for nearly complete cities around the world in a scaleable fashion.
The jury is still out whether an approach Google may take in the future could not be done more cost effectively with the same or better results. Google has a growing list of cities with 3D buildings. But, right now Microsoft seems to be on the faster track to add detailed photo-textured 3D buildings. Google has similar financial resources and a lot of brain power, so there's no reason to believe Google has to fall behind in this one area - 3D Buildings. In the meantime, Google Earth enjoys a very healthy lead with regards to imagery, user-base, a mature delivered series of products, millions of user contributed data files, and the huge repository of data sitting in the layers of Google Earth which many people have yet to explore.
15 de Febrero 2007
Headed to Miami
I'm flying south tomorrow to get out of the cold to visit warmer climates. The Miami Boat Show has already started and its time for me to check out all the new sailboats. If there are any GEB readers also attending, drop me an E-mail and we'll try to link up. I'm always happy to meet other sailors who also like Google Earth. There's a blog entry in the can for tomorrow - it will be automatically published in a few hours. My flight is at an awfully early hour, so it's time to get to bed. Good night!
Where 2.0 Registration Open - Discount for GEB Readers
The O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference for 2007 will be held again in San Jose, California on May 29-30. Registration is now open. This is the conference to attend if you want to meet and hear leaders in the developing Web 2.0 mapping technology world. Last year all the major service providers (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, MapQuest, etc.) and even major GIS players (ESRI) were in attendance. For an idea of what its like from a Google Earth perspective, look over my notes from last year's conference: Day 1 and Day 2 . Visit the conference site to learn about it from a broader perspective. You'll note the Google Earth / Maps teams were there in force. No word yet whether there will be another Google Geo Developer Day where Google held a special event at the Googleplex a day early and invited Where 2.0 attendees.
Google Earth Blog - yours truly - will be there to cover Where 2.0 again this year. If you're interested in attending, registration is now open. Prices go up after April 10. O'Reilly has been kind enough to offer GEB readers a 10% discount if you plan to attend. Just enter 'whr07geb' for your discount code when you fill out your registration (but, make sure you read about other discounts available - if you're an academic there's a 50% discount). Send me an E-mail if you plan to attend, I hope to meet you there!
14 de Febrero 2007
Google Announces New Support Forums for Google Earth Products
[UPDATE 15-Feb-2007: The new support forums are now official see below.]
Google is really showing some love for us Google Earth users today. First the announcement about new Google Earth search capability, and also today they have announced new support forums. Google has long had support oriented forums at the Google Earth Community. Today it was announced Google would like to get closer to the users of the various GE products. So, they are going to set up new support forums where Googlers will be officially monitoring so you can get an official answer more quickly (theoretically). I suspect the new forums will be going up as Google Groups - UPDATE: they are Google's new special Google Groups-like support forums. Here are the list of the forums (
I will make these links when the forums are live) with links:
- Google Earth Free
- Google Earth Plus
- Google Earth Pro
- Google Earth for Mac OS X
- Google Earth for Linux
- Google Earth Pro Movie Maker
- Google Earth Data/Imagery
- Google Earth GPS
New Search Capability for Google Earth Just Released
Google has just released a capability to perform searches for relevant Google Earth content based on your current view inside GE. You don't have to download a new version of GE - it works automagically with GE 4. This new search capability adds powerful capabilities and gives even greater credibility to the KML format. Basically, what it does is search for relevant KML files with your search keywords based on your current view inside GE. And, it searches KML files anywhere available on the Internet. Right now, the feature is a little hidden (I encourage Google to make this feature more visible). But, here is an example of how to use it: Look at the US from space, and enter "Google HQ" in the "Search->Fly To" input field. After you hit "Enter" the results will show 10 local business results marked by red placemark icons like normal. But, if you scroll down in the search results a new folder appears (unhighlighted) which says "Web results". Here you will see the first 10 results as green placemarks matching "Google HQ" from KML files on the web. Try turning on the first one - double click it to fly there. This will show you the Googleplex in GE. Click on the placemark to read a description which includes a link to the KML file which may contain other information and placemarks.
This new feature in Google Earth was announced today by Chikai Ohazama at the Google Maps API blog. He says the capability will also be implemented for Google Maps. Now we know why last month Google suggested people include KML files in their sitemap files describing files on their web servers. Using a sitemap you can better describe the location of KMLs so Google's search engine can add it to their databases.
Some other search examples to try:
Search for "Anchorages" while looking at the Caribbean
Search "Lord of the Rings" while looking at New Zealand
Search "Olympic stadiums" while looking at Europe
This feature really needs to be more prominent. I can understand not wanting to put up the placemarks by default when doing the search. However, Google should add an option to allow advanced users to show Web Results by default when performing searches. Right now you have to go through an awkward process of scrolling down in the results window and turning things on to see the web results.
iCommunity.TV - News with Google Earth Location
A new service called iCommunity.TV has been launched which combines video content posted at YouTube, Google Maps and Earth, and input from people around the world to tell the news. They are calling it a "collaborative broadcast network for local news, built with the intention to promote video as a media for citizen reporting". You can view various "channels" or create custom channels (or filters) for subjects or locations you are interested in. Each video or channel is georeferenced and shown with a Google Map, or you can download a "KML" to view the location of the news in Google Earth. The channels are network links and can be saved for future viewing in GE. You can also get RSS feeds for the same information. Here is an example of the Politics Channel in Google Earth.
Free registration allows you to become a news editor and upload and edit your own content. Once you are at the iCommunity.TV site you can watch the news videos, read or make comments, rate the news item, get an RSS feed, etc. I found the concept pretty interesting, and mapping the news makes it more interesting. Supporting Google Earth as well is a smart move too. Thanks to GEB reader Chris Haller from Berlin, Germany - who created the project - for telling me about it. PS Chris tells me he is moving to Denver now.
13 de Febrero 2007
Google Should Buy This - Real Estate Shopping With Google Earth
Ed Kohler, Technology Evangelist, has just posted his recommendation (using Google Earth to illustrate) that Google should buy Ford's Twin Cities Assembly plant in St. Paul, Minnesota (see here in Google Earth ). The plant is going on the market soon after financial troubles Ford has been experiencing. Ed points out that this prime piece of real estate is not only a rare large industrial property in the middle of town, but also has some really great features: 1) It has it's own hydroelectric clean power source (a dam of the mighty Mississippi right next door); 2) it has large underground tunnels dug for trucks to mine sandstone - great for underground protected server farms; 3) very close to a major airport; 4) has it's own train depot; and the list goes on. Ed also points out there might be some environmental clean-up issues since the plant has been there for many years. But, Google would come out looking like a hero if they handled it properly. Ed makes a compelling case. I wonder if he has ulterior motives?
I'm sure if Google considers this real estate that they will use Google Earth effectively to evaluate the opportunity with handy information about housing in the area, nearby parks, recreation, weather, environmental issues, nearest food establishments, etc. All they have to do is turn on the appropriate Google Earth layers and do some searching for relevant placemark collections. Turning on the "Geographic Web" layer I noticed there's a Panoramio picture of a nice waterfall just west of the dam. It's part of the "Hidden Falls Crosby Park". The features available in Google Earth almost make me want to go shopping for real estate even though I'm not really in the market.
Planes in Flight Hobby
One of the luxuries of writing your own blog is that you can occasionally get away with repeating yourself. Those of you who regularly read GEB know I occasionally write about my favorite Google Earth hobby: searching the satellite and aerial photos of Google Earth to find planes captured in flight. Besides the fact that I am a pilot myself and have a passion for flying, I just think it is really amazing how many planes there are in the air around the world at any one instant (the instant a photo was taken by satellite or aircraft) as portrayed in Google Earth. Download this network link for the continuously updated collection of placemarks of all known planes in flight right now in Google Earth.
Ever since Google Earth came out (actually, even when the product was called Keyhole), people have been finding these unique sights of planes captured in flight. Dedicated members of the Google Earth Community - 'AZTraveller', 'Cyclonic', and 'FrankMcVey' - have maintained a KML collection documenting the locations of all current planes in flight. Over time, as Google replaces imagery with its database updates, the planes previously found disappear. These guys remove placemarks which no longer show planes, and add new locations as people post about them at the Transportation forum - usually in the All Aircraft in Flight thread. If you happen to find a plane in flight, you should download this network link to see if the plane is already found. If not, you should post it to the Transportation forum so it can be added to the database (use the "Share/Post" menu choice in GE).
By the way, the plane in the photo above can be found here . This particular plane is a small plane which happened to fly directly beneath the plane taking the aerial photography. A truly unique closeup plane in flight, and one of my favorites (even though I didn't find it). A big thanks to Cyclonic and FrankMcVey for their dedication in keeping up the database!
Related - interesting planes in flight found:
12 de Febrero 2007
Fox Television Offering Google Earth/Maps Weather Data
FOX TV has begun officially offering weather data via Google Maps and Earth. An example for the New York area is a Google Maps mashup which shows winter weather. On the left navigation bar are 5 links to different weather maps available. More importantly, you can download a network link for Google Earth for each map and it shows the data for the entire US. So for example, here is the heavy winter weather map , and here is a nation-wide ski/boarding report .
The significant point here is that this is the first major TV network to support Google Maps and GE for weather reporting. CBS has been outputting geotagged RSS feeds of CBS news for GE, but it is very basic - just placemarks with nice descriptions and a link to each story. FOX's implementation is also relatively simple for weather reporting (no radar, satellite photos, or time slider animations), but its a good step nonetheless. Hopefully, all the networks will begin implementing these interfaces more broadly and some competition for the best visualizations will ensue. Google Earth is capable of some fantastic visualizations if properly implemented. The Discovery Channel has been getting a ton of publicity through its agreement with Google to supply bits and pieces of content tied into Google Earth (see recent Sunrise Earth for example). I would encourage other networks to work deals with Google as well.
News Roundup - FreeGeoTools, Sprol, Subsurface, conferences, Magnalox
- FreeGeographyTools - FreeGeographyTools.com is a blog started last month by Leszek Pawlowicz. The blog is dedicated to writing reviews and tips about free software tools for GIS, Google Earth, mapping, etc. His first series of posts was about free tools enabling you to do things in GE Plus, and Pro. He also has written a series on converting shapefiles to GE. A worthy read.
- Sprol - Environmental blog Sprol.com (dedicated to writing about the worst places in the world) has georeferenced their blog entries and made them all available via KML so you can view them in Google Earth.
- Subsurface - One shortcoming of GE is its ability to render in 3D terrain below sea-level or below the ground. This capability was the most-requested feature understandably at the American Geophysical Union in December. Until GE gets this capability, I have been told that a free software product called GEON IDV offers globe based visualization of many geoscience datasets. It's not a full virtual globe, but it is reportedly helpful in offering similar renderings.
- Conferences - Two upcoming conferences in the San Francisco area worth noting (I plan on attending both): 1) Where 2.0 - May 29-30; and 2) the Fifth International Symposium on Digital Earth June 5-9 - registration info
- Magnalox - Magnalox.net has added substantial new features for live tracking from GPS locators or you can create a simulated track just using the mapping tool (if you forgot your GPS). This web-based software has loads of capability - most of the functionality can be tested for free - or full functionality is available for a modest subscription.
10 de Febrero 2007
Car Parked on Side of a Building - Not a Fake!
Someone was scanning Google Earth and noticed this very strange sight: A car on the side of a building complete with parking lot (see it here ). GEC member 'caelestis' posted this the other day speculating that someone was photo-retouching the aerial photography somehow. But, GEC member 'bebop' the next day found out this is in fact not a fake. In fact, you can see a photo of this unique sight in Westenbergstraat, Netherlands. At night, it gets even weirder since the car's lights come on. Thanks to Delta102 for the tip!
Related - Here's a blog entry with a bunch of interesting sights in GE including a school bus on a building roof.
9 de Febrero 2007
Majesty of the Seas
This is a good story for a Friday. Earlier this week GoogleSightseeing.com had a feature about a bizarre sighting in Google Earth of a "miniature" (33 meters long) cruise ship found in the driveway of a home in France. It turns out a retired coal miner, by the name of Francois Zanella, has earned quite a bit of notoriety by building a 1/8th scale model of the "Majesty of the Seas" cruise ship in the form of a French canal boat. That's right, he has since launched the boat for going up and down the canals. Read the full story here. He even contacted the builders of the real cruise ship and was given a tour of the real ship by the Captain himself. He was featured on a French TV show while he was building and launching the vessel. Anyway, you can see the scale model in his driveway here, and you can also see the real Majesty of Seas in the Miami harbour. Nice write-up James and Alex!
Yahoo Pipes - What It Means for Google Earth/Maps - See Earthify
Yesterday Yahoo released a new beta product called Yahoo Pipes. This tool has already been called "...a milestone in the history of the Internet" by visionary Tim O'Reilly. The full concept may be a little tricky to grasp if you are not a technologist, but in a nutshell it enables you to easily take the output from one Internet site and feed it to another site as an input which then lets you do something new with the data. (Those of us who have lots of Unix experience are quick to grasp the concept). The Google Maps mashups you hear about all the time (combining unique data and applications with maps) are an example of manually developed "pipes". Yahoo Pipes makes it even easier using a graphical diagram to architect by drag and drop mashups (and more). So, for example you can take the home page of the New York Times, find all the words which are locations, and then find pictures at Flickr which represent those locations. What I am excited about is that it should be possible to include applications which can handle KML and both process and generate GE content combined with other data sources to generate really unique GE visualizations. Read on for an example of what I'm talking about in the form of a thing called Earthify.
Google Earth already has some aspects of this in the form of the network link. A network link lets you get the KML from another server somewhere which may tap into other data to provide you with dynamic content in GE. For example, the near-real-time NASA photos from their MODIS satellites overlayed into GE. Combining Pipes with network links will make for truly powerful things.
So yesterday someone released their own project which demonstrates the possibility of pipes (although he didn't use Pipes, and was in fact thinking his efforts were wasted now that Pipes is out). Jeff Crouse released Earthify, which takes the results from a page in Craigslist and maps those results into Google Earth. His application scans the Craigslist results and determines which entries are "Earthifyable" (where he can determine a location based on addresses), and which are not. Then sorts the list and generates a KML file to show the results in GE. Visit this page for both an explanation of the application and instructions on how to set it up. In his case, he provides a bookmarklet which lets you easily process a Craigslist page (thanks to the code he wrote). Jeff implemented this so he could evaluate housing choices based on viewing the locations of Craigslist listings. Great work Jeff!
Someday soon, with the advent of Pipes, we will see very cool GE visualizations like highly personalized weather forecasts where the data could be taken from various sources (NASA, FAA, NOAA, weather.com, and your local weather channel) to provide you with more meaningful information all by just turning on a network link inside GE. You could already do this with a bit of programming, but the Yahoo Pipes concept will make it much easier. This is going to be great!
8 de Febrero 2007
Underwater Roman Village?
Recently an online news site (20minutos.es) in Spain picked up on a "discovery" someone made in Google Earth of what looks like a submerged ancient village near San Javier in Spain. Apparently, another spanish-speaking person first posted about this in December 2005 at the Google Earth Community (GEC). You can see the location here (I've increased the brightness and contrast in the thumbnail here). The location does indeed look like there were structures now submerged. The water is quite shallow (according to some it is less than a meter), and some have speculated maybe no one has done any diving there.
I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about this site? Is it an undiscovered ancient village? Or is it well known by the locals? Is it some kind of weird coral geometric coral formation? If no one knows, I bet some people will be doing some snorkeling and diving when it gets warmer.
Check out some other archaeological discoveries that have been made using Google Earth:
7 de Febrero 2007
Using Satellite Photos to Document Human Rights Violations
The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) has a project called the Science and Human Rights Program (SHR) and has been working with Amnesty International and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to document human rights violations using satellite photography. According to OgleEarth, a Lars Bromley at the AAAS took data from the SRH project and created Google Earth files which use network links and GE 4 features to show increasingly higher resolution photos as you zoom into areas of concern. For example, you can see cases of ethnic cleansing where whole villages have been destroyed between March 2006 and November 2006 in Darfur (turn on/off November and March 2006 network links to see the difference between the two time periods for the areas marked in red). OgleEarth created placemarks showing locations in the most recent GE imagery update which show the refugee camps from Darfur. By the way, check out the Darfur Wall.
Google Earth is a great way to reach a wide audience to help the world see clear evidence of human rights violations and suffering which otherwise would be hidden because of the difficulty in reaching these dangerous places. The AAAS deserves credit for taking steps to properly utilize science and the utility of GE to help spread the word.
3D Video Inside Google Earth
This is a cool concept implemented by Google Earth modeling innovator 'jpwade' (aka Joey Wade). Joey has posted some tests of taking video content and mapping the frames of the video to a 3D surface which is then placed into Google Earth and played back using the time feature of GE 4. In his example, he took a short clip of a drag race and placed it on a simulated large TV screen at a race park near Phoenix, Arizona. If you are familiar with time feature applications like this, you can download the 3D drag race video now, and follow these instructions: 1) grab the handles of the time slider and maximize the slider (this allows all the frames of the video to download), 2) reverse the process and minimize the slider bar, 3) hit the "Play" button (the triangular right arrow button on the right of the time slider). Adjust the speed of the playback by clicking on the little clock button on the left of the slider and set "Animation Speed".
I have also made a video showing the 3D movie inside Google Earth and put it up on YouTube:
For a long time now, I have been hoping Google would implement the ability to put videos inside the 3D domain of GE. I mentioned this idea after seeing a nifty plug-in that lets you view movies inside Quicktime VR scenes. This idea of Joey's is a pretty cool idea for visualizing what would be possible with a proper 3D video plug-in for GE. SecondLife (the free to try virtual world application) already makes extensive use of 3D video and audio plug-ins inside their 3D metaverse. Hopefully, GE will have this soon. Great work Joey!
6 de Febrero 2007
LA Times on Google Earth Sleuthing
The LA Times has released a story entitled "Intrepid Armchair Explorers" by Chris Gaither. Chris interviewed me before the holidays about interesting things people are finding using Google Earth. He ended up wrapping his story around the "Burning Ship Story" I had mentioned to him (ok, it's just a boat), which illustrates how involving millions of people to look at unusual sights usually ends up in the facts being discovered. The LA Times story talks about many unique sights which have been discovered and illustrated by web sites like GEB, GoogleSightseeing, and, of course, the Google Earth Community. He interviews John Hanke, Director of Google Earth. The article also covers those folks who are using the photos in Microsoft's Virtual Earth to make similar discoveries and Chris properly interviews Steve Lawler of Microsoft who is Hanke's counterpart. Chris even interviewed Andre Mueller, the German Physics student who made the discovery of the "burning ship". Overall, the LA Times article is an interesting read if you are an armchair explorer yourself.
Google Earth Critical Tool in Fight Against Logging Plan
The fight against a logging plan to "thin" a forest of redwoods in the Los Gatos Creek watershed continues. Late last fall, Al Gore spoke in favor of the neighbors of this forest who are against the proposed logging. A critical factor then was a presentation which used Google Earth to illustrate how cutting the trees would effect schools, streams, and homes. The presentation was put together by a Googler named Rebecca Moore who is an engineer working on the Google Earth team. The presentation was powerful enough to get Al Gore to speak out against the plan.
A public hearing was held last Wednesday (January 31) on the issue. Rebecca Moore had been working on a new presentation for months which was to prove that the company submitting the plan was not legally able to do so. The key issue is that the company submitting an open logging plan could not contain more than 2500 acres of commercially viable trees. Rebecca's team flew over the land with a helicopter and took high resolution aerial photos. Then plotted the areas with commercially viable trees and measured the lands. They documented the work extensively and the results clearly show more than 2500 acres involved in the plan. You can read more details in the San Jose Mercury News. It was also covered by several local TV stations (see ABC's news report).
You can also view the web site by the neighbors against the plan, and watch the movie presentation (no audio, Quicktime) which uses Google Earth to illustrate the acreage issue. I recommend watching this video, you will be impressed with the thoroughness of the analysis. Great work Rebecca!
5 de Febrero 2007
News Roundup - India Censorship, SightSeer, Plazes, Education
- India Censorship - Since shortly after Google Earth was released in 2005, politicians in India have been expressing horror that locations in India of concern to national security are available for all to view. Most countries who have these concerns have contacted the suppliers of the imagery to have changes made to disguise their sights. India mistakenly seems to believe they need to go to Google to take care of this. According to an India Times article this weekend they are saying Google has agreed to help them blur/alter the locations officials are concerned about. Hopefully, Google just told them to go to the aerial/satellite photo providers rather than agreeing to do this themselves. You can see examples of censorship by other countries all over the world (done by aerial or satellite photography companies - not by Google) by reading this post by Price Collins or downlaoding the network link to see the placemarks of censorship . Stefan Geens at OgleEarth regularly writes about censorship issues in GE.
- Sightseer - The January issue of Sightseer is available for viewing at the GEC. This issue covers the release of GE 4 and other GE news from Dec/Jan. Note that you can receive the Sightseer by E-mail by signing up when you download the latest version of GE (a new version just came out last week).
- Plazes - Plazes is a location-based social network. People can show where they are located on a map and find ways to link up in person. The company Plazes AG behind it, based in Zurich, has recently received financing from Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures in the amount of 2.7 Million Euros. My guess is the goal is to either compete with My Spaces, or ultimately be acquired by My Spaces. See a review of Plazes and its GE interface.
- Education - Read this Archeology professor's comments about using GE for archeology and his experience with having students use GE to learn.
2 de Febrero 2007
Update to Ads in Google Earth/Maps
Just noticed a blog entry from Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land about a new feature for ads in Google Maps and Google Earth. For some time now you already could see ads if you searched for businesses in Google Earth (as seen in this story back in May last year). But, the ads used to appear randomly as an extra little bubble below the placemark description for say a placemark showing a coffee shop (there you might see a Starbucks Sponsored Link). Now, you might see a special very small placemark icon with a miniature logo of a sponsor on related searches. So, if you went into Google Earth and search for "hotels in Chicago" you will not only find the first 10 matches for hotels, but also may see a few "Sponsored links" placemarks. If you click on these, you get a placemark description with a sponsored link AND a logo image for the sponsor. This also happens if you search in Google Maps as shown here.
This is a very subtle change to adding advertisements. I don't think these ads detract from the search results, and they certainly look better than the plain text ads randomly appearing on some placemark descriptions. So far the number of search types that produces ads seems pretty small. I tried a number of searches in big cities for all kinds of things and "hotels" was the only consistent search which brought up a few ads. I certainly like this better than the giant 3D billboards appearing in Virtual Earth 3D.
Minor Update to Google Earth 4 - Version 4.0.273X
If you go to the Google Earth Download page you can download a minor update to Google Earth 4. It includes fixes to minor bugs with mostly uncommon computer configurations. No new features. Version numbers for the new version are:
- Windows - Version 4.0.2737
- Mac - Version 4.0.2736
- Linux - Version 4.0.2735
One bug fix noted was to "Default to DirectX on Vista on first run due to poor OpenGL support".
Google Street Maps Overlay for Google Earth
Upon reviewing the GEB archives it appears I missed writing about this one even though I've used it for over a year. The same guy who implemented Globe Glider (a useful Windows application for integrating mapping tools with GE), 'BernhardMuc' at the GEC, also released another handy tool. Bernhard posted a way to view Google Maps street maps as transparent images seamlessly overlayed automatically in Google Earth. As you change your view, it reloads a proper zoom level of Google Maps. One example of why this network link is useful is to view detailed map data for countries like Australia and New Zealand which have great roads data in Google Maps, but the data hasn't been ported to GE yet. The maps also show things like parks, lakes, rivers, and tourist sites as well. I think this is a handy thing worth keeping in your "My Places" and turning on when you need a map-like perspective, but still in 3D. (Tip: you can adjust the transparency by changing the parameter in the network link from &TRANS=80 to 100 - no transparency, 0 - fully transparent)
Abu Simbel Statues of Pharaoh Ramsses in 3D in Google Earth
The archaeological site of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt is home to the fabulous twin temples built during the era of Pharaoh Ramsses II which include four 20 meter statues of the Pharaoh. The temples and statues were carefully moved by antiquities experts 60 meters up the mountainside in the 1960s out of necessity due to the building of the Aswan Dam which formed Lake Nasser. Read more about Abu Simbel at Wikipedia. One of the Google Earth Community members, 'pmaxfield2' recently posted a 3D model of the statues and temple. Check out the model in Google Earth 4. He even used photos of the statues and the new feature in SketchUp 6 (the free 3D modeling tool from Google) called Photo Match to add realistic textures to the model. Viewing this model in Google Earth gave me a new perspective on this site and encouraged me to learn more about it. Great work pmaxfield2!
1 de Febrero 2007
Recent Weather Satellite Animations in Google Earth
Someone at the Google Earth Community named 'randomGIS' has posted two network links which will load up the most recent few hours of infrared (IR) satellite photos as a time animation in Google Earth 4. This means you can watch animations of clouds moving during the past few hours on the 3D surface of GE. Load a network link from either NOAA GOES 11 (covers western North America and the NE Pacific ocean) or the NOAA GOES 12 (covers most of North America and the NW Atlantic ocean). Once you load one up, click on the right arrow ("play") button on the right of the time slider gadget. You should see an animation of the photos begin. First time through it needs to load the images. You can adjust the speed of the animation by clicking on the little clock icon on the left side of the time slider gadget and adjusting "Animation speed". If you plan to use these network links frequently, simply save them in your "My Places". They won't take up much space in memory until you turn them on.
It amazes me that weather forecasters haven't done more to support GE on their web sites. Especially with the addition of the time animation with GE 4. NOAA has done a few things with GE/KML, but not nearly enough yet in my opinion. Hopefully now that GE 4 is out of beta we'll see more official adoption of weather data using GE/KML.
Related: See the weather category at GEB for many things done with Google Earth for weather (scroll down for a long list). Also, see this story for a recent example of NOAA support and a list of other NOAA projects using KML.