Local Australian City Councils Abandon Use Of Google Earth To Monitor Building Permits, Unregistered Pets

Home remodeling without building permits is a popular pastime and cat-and-mouse game in the US, with homeowners trying to avoid increased taxation and building permit fees. Apparently that's also true elsewhere in the world. In a a couple of towns on the Australian island of Tasmania, city officials were using Google Earth and Maps "to monitor rate-payer compliance in terms of illegal home renovations, unfenced swimming pools, unregistered pets and unauthorized demolition." However the towns have since decided to abandon using the tools because of privacy concerns: "Not trying to ca [...]

Google Consolidates “Places” On Earth, Will Fill In The Blanks On Maps

Google is seeking to simplify and consolidate some of the multi-media content on Google Earth associated with particular places. Accordingly, it has created a "Places" layer that tries to bring together a variety of content on a single page about a place. A gray box, which Google likens to a "stack of photographs," indicates one of these pages. Clicking the box brings up a multi-media display that offers still images, videos and text about the particular location. Here's an example for Ellis Island (New York): Separately, Google said that it will start filling out countries in Google [...]

Google Enables Political Video Search With Speech Recognition, Showcases 3D Technology

Google is introducing an Elections Search Gadget that allows users to search transcripts of political speeches and videos that appear on YouTube candidate channels. The speech recognition technology (also shared with Goog411) produces a transcript of the videos, which can then searched by users of the Gadget to find precise phrases or keywords in speeches or candidate statements on particular issues. Google is doing this to test out the speech-to-text capability, which it will probably expand more broadly to YouTube videos as a whole and to Google video once the technology is improved and h [...]

Lively New Virtual World From Google

In a way, it's very un-Google. The new Lively 3D "virtual world" that launched today is perhaps another run at social networking after the mixed experience of Orkut (popular in Brazil and India, among a few other places). Apparently aimed at teens and even tweens cutting their virtual teeth on sites like Webkinz and Club Penguin, Lively is apparently the product of the long-rumored Google Metaverse project. It's only available for PC at the moment. I spent some time with it this afternoon and found it relatively easy to use and engaging, although there's slight a learning curve. A nice, fai [...]

Disney World 3D Now Playing In Google Earth

Disney had made a 3D version of its Florida theme park for Google Earth. Disney has reportedly gone to great lengths to make this an especially rich 3D experience. You have to have the latest version of Earth and then you navigate to Disney World and click on the golden Mickey Mouse ears. [...]

Mainstreaming Google Earth By Plugging It Into The Browser

Google Earth has always been a great product -- and a popular one, downloaded more than 100 million times. Despite this volume it's still not mainstream however. Microsoft Virtual Earth decided not to go with a big downloadable client and use a browser plug-in instead. This was a smart strategy to "mainstream" the Virtual Earth application and compete against Earth. Unfortunately Virtual Earth 3D runs too slowly on most computers. Now Google has followed Microsoft and made Earth available via the browser for Windows users. It's also available (like Maps) to be mashed up via the Google Maps [...]

Google News Now On Earth

Earlier this week, Google added Google News to Earth. This follows the earlier addition of the NY Times to Earth. Other companies plotting news on a map include MetaCarta, Everyblock, Outside.in, YourStreet and a couple of others. Here are some screenshots of News in Earth (London): [...]

Google Updates Earth Imagery & Begins To Blur Faces

Google has announced a new earth imagery update has been pushed out to their mapping product. With that update, Google has updated their Manhattan images, which includes higher quality images, better naming of specific buildings and areas, plus Google has begun blurring the faces of people in their street view images. The "new face-blurring technology" has been implemented within the new Manhattan images on Google Maps. Here is a picture of one image that has blurred faces: To see this in action for yourself, check out the street corner of 17th street and Union Square. This is a great [...]

Microsoft’s Worldwide Telescope Application Blasts Onto The Desktop

Microsoft has launched (an appropriate metaphor this time) its Worldwide Telescope desktop application. You must download the software, but then you're treated to a beautiful array of images and "guided tours" of the cosmos (see screenshots below). Intended for science education, "Worldwide Telescope stitches together terabytes of high-resolution images of celestial bodies, and displays them in a way that relates to their actual position in the sky." According to Microsoft, the mission of Worldwide Telescope is: --To aggregate scientific data from major telescopes, observatories and institu [...]

Google Ocean To Complement Google Earth, Maps, & Sky Soon

Google diving into 3D mapping of oceans from News.com reports Google is working on a new mapping system to map the Earth's oceans. The tool might be named Google Ocean and will complement Google Earth and Google Sky. News.com says Google Ocean will contain 3D oceanographic maps with underwater topography, search features for spots and attractions, and also have zooming and panning features. Much like Google Earth and Sky, you will be able to overlay layers on top of the oceanographic maps, such as weather patterns, currents, temperatures, shipwrecks, coral reefs, and algae blooms. NOTE [...]

Google StreetView Sees Expansion In Europe, With Automation Of 3D

CNet speculates about expanded Google StreetView coverage in Europe and the coming automation of 3D mapping for Google Earth and, perhaps, the desktop. Google's StreetView project is definitely global and there have been sightings of the camera-equipped vehicles throughout Europe. It's thus only a matter of time before the major European capitals are added (which is great for US-based travel to Europe; too bad the exchange rates are so unfavorable). Microsoft automated its 3D rendering a couple of years ago with the acquisition of Vexcel and more recently acquired 3D modeling software compan [...]

Google Earth 4.3 To Launch, KML Becomes Open Standard

According to the Google Earth Blog, Google Earth version 4.3 (free) is coming later today. Among the upgrades and improvements are faster load times for 3D buildings, day/night lighting, new navigational options, and StreetView images. (Google has also just started to let StreetView on to third party sites.) In addition, as the Google LatLong Blog reports, KML (which originally stood for "Keyhole Markup Language") has now become an accepted open standard, which joins GeoRSS. KML has been formally accepted by the international body, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), and Google no longer l [...]

Google Rolls Out Chicago Transit, Defends Water Naming Policy In Earth

Google announced that it had expanded Google Transit to cover Chicago, the second largest public transit system in the US. That brings to 37 the number of cities in the US and abroad offered on Google Transit. Below is an example of public transportation directions from Evanston, IL to Chicago's O'Hare airport: View Larger Map Here's a video with a full explanation: Separately, Google explained (and defended) its apparently controversial naming policy associated with the appearance of bodies of water in Google Earth: Under this policy, the English Google Earth client displays the prima [...]

Google Loses Another Exec: CIO Douglas Merrill Goes To EMI

Word is from John Furrier that Google Chief Information Officer Douglas Merrill is leaving the company to become president of EMI. News.com has confirmation of his departure from Google and says sources also say he's going to EMI. The New York Times also has sources saying he's headed to the music company. Merrill's departure (recently profiled here in Information Week) comes less than a month after another senior exec, Sheryl Sandberg, left Google for Facebook. Brain drain? Sort of, but more a question of how do you keep rich top execs challenged, I'd say. Brain drain? Yes and no. Both Sa [...]

Google Sky Now Viewable From Any Web Browser

Google announced that they have taken Google Sky from Google Earth and now made it viewable on the web at sky.google.com. Many of the Google Sky features found within Google Earth are also available on the browser version. You can: SearchBrowseChange the video between infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, or x-rayTelescope galleries from Hubble and othersView up-to-date planet positions and constellationsAccess lots of custom KML contentAccess the podcasts gallery For additional ways to use Google Sky on the web, see this help document. Google also provided a video demonstration of some of th [...]

Google Earth Image Update: Spain Images

Google Earth is constantly obtaining new satellite images and updating their old ones. The Google Earth Blog stays on top of most these updates and has notified us of a recent update where Google has added more detailed imagery of Spain. The Google Earth Blog reports the imagery update covers the eastern edge of Spain, including Barcelona. The update includes these towns in Spain: Valladolid, Leon, Burgos, Avila, Segovia, Salamanca, Andalucia, and Cataluña. Frank Taylor of the Google Earth Blog says that with one update comes others, and he is asking his readers to notify him if they noti [...]

Visualize Earthquake Data In Google Earth

The US Geological Survey and Google are now making global earthquake data available in Google Earth as one of the layers under "Places of Interest." According to the USGS: USGS and Google signed an agreement to publish historic earthquake data from the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) catalog as a "built-in" layer, accessible directly from the Google Earth viewer . . . The new layer includes historic earthquakes since 1900, and USGS real-time earthquakes are now accessible as a hyperlink from within Google Earth. If the layer is checked, users will see a sprinkling of dots across the [...]

Google Updates Sky Images & Features In Google Earth

The Google LatLong Blog announced they have updated Sky in Google Earth with new content, features, and API integrations. To see Google Sky, click "Switch to Sky" from the "view" drop-down menu in Google Earth, or click the Sky button on the Google Earth toolbar. Here is a list of new features and content that can be found in the new Google Sky: Earth & Sky Podcasts: Podcasts about stars, galaxies, planets, and events coming up in the sky from the NPR program Earth and Sky. Current Sky Events: Contains timely updates on recent cosmological events from VOEventNet. Featured observatories: im [...]

Real Time US Presidential Primary Results In Google Maps

Political and news junkies take note: Google mapped the results of yesterday's New Hampshire U.S. presidential primary by candidate and county for both parties. There are also videos from YouTube of candidate victory or concession speeches. According to the Google LatLong blog, the results were presented last night in real time. You can also see the same results in Google Earth (screenshots below). UPDATE #2: For 2008 election results, please see Election Results From The Search Engines & Beyond, published on November 4, 2008. UPDATE: For Super Tuesday information, please see these p [...]

Instructions On Tracking Santa With NORAD & Google: The 2007 Edition

I'm a serious Santa Claus tracker. When I was a kid, I used to get Santa updates from NORAD (the US missile tracking people) via the radio. As an adult, I've long used the NORAD Tracks Santa web site to keep up with St. Nick, Father Christmas, or whatever your local name is for the jolly red suited man. This year, Google officially partnered with NORAD, bringing the NORAD Santa tracking site some of its most substantial changes in years. Some of the changes I like, and some make me think I wish Google had stayed out of it. Here's how to use the site, what's different, and what's cool. NO [...]

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