GoogleEarth 6 plants 3D trees

Google published version 6 of GoogleEarth and the most important update for our profession is that it comes with 3D trees!

However, not the whole Earth is populated with trees yet but only some areas in a few selected cities: According to TechCrunch 80 million trees were “planted” in Athens, Berlin, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Tokyo. Yet, the quality of trees is rather low but Google claims to distinguish 50 species already. Other updates of version 6 include an enhanced integration of StreetView and a more user-friendly overview and navigation through historic aerial images. The new version is a beta and does not update automatically but must be installed from the Google download site. A GoogleEarth showcase can be downloaded here.

The key question for us is how the integration may facilitate the use of GoogleEarth as a tool in landscape related design and planning professions. Sheppard and Cizek (2009) discussed the various technical and ethical issues of previous GoogleEarth versions and identified the lack of vegetation as one of the major limitations. Our tests in the Kimberley Climate Adaptation Project supported the argument that the lack of vegetation distorts the representation of future design scenarios in GoogleEarth and inhibits the otherwise potentially useful tool for landscape planning.

In this context, the new GoogleEarth version allows new user tests and applications. Next steps could be to explore how 3D trees are inserted and distributed, assessments how realistic GoogleEarth forest stands are,  and how user´s landscape perception will change with regard to Google´s “Tree View”. As one of the first new applications, is planning to use the virtual trees to push (real) reforestation campaigns.

Google Earth API: Embeddable KML w/o JavaScript

At the Google I/O 2009 new features of the Google API were introduced:

Among others, the GoogleEarth Plugin was further developed. With this plugin, you can embed GoogleEarth contents in normal websites. With the help of the following Google Gadget, this is now pretty simple:

For the following very simple example, I used an overview of Canadian Universities. However, I also tried this technique with very large and complex kml files and it worked as well. The Google developer forum gives more information which features of GoogleEarth are included already and which are not.

GoogleEarth 5.0: 20000 Miles Under The Sea

The new version of GoogleEarth, which can be downloaded now, has been extended by the underwater landscape of the Earth – which is two third of the Earth’s surface… Furthermore, the function for setting up your own tours has been improved and the time-travel function has become standard. Now, it will be really interesting to use GoogleEarth to show landscape development over time, historic and into the future. Oh, and finally, they added the Mars. For a more detailed summary of the new functions in German, see the Der Google Produkt-Kompass: Reise unter die Meeresoberfläche mit Google Earth 5.0 or Youtube (English):