Google Earth: Tracking hurricane speeds

In 2006,  a tool from Jeremy Cothran at the University of South Carolina that provided a ton of near real-time weather data from various sensors around the southeastern United States.

Jeremy has now taken that vast amount of data, and simplified it to highlight significant events among those sensors. In particular, it highlights wind gusts over 30 mph or wave heights over five feet. The result, when combined with other tools such as Google’s built-in satellite overlay, can be quite useful.

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The more significant events are shown using larger icons, making it easier to see where the heart of the action is. You can also view the data using Google Maps, but it loses the label styling and time slider functionality.

Google Earth: An Illustrated History of the World

Robert Rosenberg recently emailed us to let us know about a very ambitious new project he’s working on, called the Illustrated History of the World. In his words:

The IHW project is the Foundation’s effort to bring together existing multi-media web content such as Google Earth, You Tube, and Wikipedia in order to create an interactive narrative of world history based upon the content of our Tables of Instances.

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If things go as well as they’re hoping, the result could be a very useful resource for teachers and students to help supplement their history and geography lessons.

As of now, the project is a bit cumbersome to load on your computer, as the main KMZ file is roughly 108MB! They’re already working on ways to reduce the size of that, likely putting it into a network link so it can be loaded in smaller chunks as needed. The other advantage to using a network link is that the data can be automatically updated, rather than requiring the user to re-download it from their site.

You can learn more on their website at TribusOrganum.org. They’ve also started a thread in the Google Earth Community to help solicit more feedback.

Planning new roads with Google Earth

If you watched the second episode of the Geospatial Revolution that we posted a few months ago, you may remember how the city of Portland was making excellent use of mapping technologies such as Google Earth to help with city planning.

I’m reminded of that story when looking at what the city of Douglasville, Georgia is doing as they prepare to undertake a massive highway widening and reconstruction project. The Highway 92 Project uses similar tools as other projects, with a variety of charts, PDFs and Word documents. However, they also are using Google Earth so people can get a very close look at how the proposed changes would impact their lives.

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As you can see from the image above and the video below, this project will make some massive changes to the layout of the road:

During recent meetings, the video was shown for the audience to view, and the presenters had the KMZ file loaded so they could walk through any questions that viewers might have.

Croy Engineering created the file for the City of Douglasville for use in the public information portion of the project concept phase. Greg Teague, Director of Engineering Services and Wayne McGary were the driving force behind the creation of the kmz file and movie.

For a project like this, Google Earth seems to be the perfect way to show it off. Novice users can watch the fly-through video, while more advanced users can use the KMZ to dig in deep.

The only thing that would make this better is the addition of 3D buildings and trees to help get a better feel for the affected area, but that will come over time as Google continues to expand those into more areas of the world.