Even The Google Street View Team Gets Lost Sometimes

After once managing to somehow wind up at an outdoor concert instead of a restaurant despite following Google Maps, I almost feel guilty for laughing at these lost and confused members of the Google Street View team.

Main Streets using Google SketchUp for Historic Preservation

Earlier in the year, we were approached by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to discuss how their member communities might leverage Google’s 3D modeling and visualization tools to support downtown revitalization programs. The concept for developing a digital model of a downtown area was conceptualized by the town of McMinnville, Tennessee, which was among the first small towns in the U.S. to organize a community modeling effort. With city budgets under pressure, the Trust was keen to explore how a community modeling approach could be expanded by downtowns across the nation.

The result was “Main Streets in 3D.” The concept was simple; a contest would be held among local Main Street programs where they would outline a vision for how their downtown would leverage a digital model. Five towns would be selected to receive a full day of training to develop 3D models of their downtown using SketchUp and Google Earth. The winning communities were announced in July.

Contest submissions varied from using the digital model for tourism promotion, to city planning, to creating an urban forestry plan – all ideal use-cases for having a publicly available 3D model. Despite the different goals, all five shared a common vision to use their Main Streets in 3D projects to attract entrepreneurs, jobs, investors, and visitors to their towns.

Igloo Studios, an authorized training center for SketchUp, coordinated with leaders in each community to schedule the training sessions. In early October, the last of the five communities gathered its volunteers to learn how to put their downtown on the digital map. Alex Oliver, CEO of Igloo Studios recently blogged about the experience.

With volunteers now trained, the project transitions to the development phase. Models such as these from Oregon City are beginning to appear in Google Earth.

All five communities will deliver a report on their progress at the National Main Streets conference in May 2011.

New KMLs for Panoramio photos in Google Earth

Panoramio has just updated their network link KMLs that are used in Google Earth to make them faster and more useful. Not only is the link faster, but “The algorithm that is responsible for distribution and taking care of thumbnail overlaps has been improved as well and that is the reason you will now have a feeling of density that did not exist before, together with a better discoverability of the photos in the layer.

As you can see in the photo below, the new versions of the KML files show a lot more photos than before:


As they mention in their blog entry about this update, here is how you can download the various KML files:

1. Popular photos in Google Earth: http://www.panoramio.com/map/

(click on the link in the lower-left corner of the Site)

2. Popular photos in Google Earth (Including photos not selected for the Panoramio layer in Google Earth): http://www.panoramio.com/map/

(you need to select the box before downloading the file from the lower-left corner of the Site)

3. Recent Panoramio uploaded photos: http://www.panoramio.com/map/

(select the recent tab and then click on the link in the lower-left corner of the Site)

4. Photos from a specific tag: http://www.panoramio.com/tags

5. Your Photos: Go to your page http://www.panoramio.com/user/user_ID and click on the link that says “in Google Earth”

We’ve talked about Panoramio quite a lot over the past few years, and they get better with each update.

Have you uploaded many photos to them? Will you be adding more now that this feature has become even more useful?