Google Earth overview

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Speaking notes for a Google Earth tour and demonstration. I wanted to show my colleagues how GE can be helpful in civil, environmental, and related projects on a daily basis.

Speaking notes for a Google Earth tour and demonstration. I wanted to show my colleagues how GE can be helpful in civil, environmental, and related projects on a daily basis.

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  • 1. G o o g l e Earth: Poor Man’s GIS, Fabulous Tool!
  • 2. Where to Get Help and Info
    • Google Earth User Guide:
    • Google Earth Help Group:
    • Google Earth blog:
  • 3. The Basics
    • Finding locations
    • Using layers
    • Adding locations and layers
    • Navigating
    • Getting coordinates
  • 4. Opening View Searching for locations
  • 5. Search for Location
    • Works like in Google Maps:
      • Named location or
      • Address or
      • Latitude and longitude
    • Zoom or “fly” to location by double-clicking
    • Save desired locations to “My Places”
  • 6. Opening View Saved locations
  • 7. Saved Locations
    • Same as any other file management:
      • Drag-and-drop
      • Create folders to organize site information
      • Give meaningful names
    • Anything under “My Places” will be saved
    • Anything under “Temporary Places” is gone after you shut Google Earth
  • 8. Opening View Ready-Made Layers
  • 9. Ready-Made Layers
    • Lots of pre-compiled information
    • Can make it really slow to load
    • Can make it confusing to navigate
      • Unselect most or all to navigate
      • Select only the ones you need, once you’re close to your location
  • 10. Some Useful Layers
    • Geographic Web:
    • Roads
    • Borders and Labels
    • Terrain (3D effect)
    • Earthquakes
    • Volcanoes
    • Parks
    • Hospitals
    • Schools
    And as usual: Garbage in, garbage out (i.e., the databases are not 100% accurate)
  • 11. Getting More Layers
    • National Wetlands Inventory: http://
    • USGS Earthquake Hazard Program: http://
    • Humboldt Bay Trail network:
    • Google Earth Gallery:
  • 12. Navigation - 1
    • Mouse left-click lets you pan: drag or spin the globe while your point-of-view remains fixed
    • Mouse right-click lets you fly: move your point-of-view up, down, and around a fixed location target
    • Scroll wheel lets you zoom straight in and out vertically
  • 13. Navigating - 2
    • Sliders let you pan and fly as well
    • Double-click “North” to reset orientation
    • Vertical slider tilts the point-of-view
    • Arrows pan north, south, east, west
    • Numbers pad: + and – let you zoom straight in and out vertically
  • 14. Getting Coordinates
    • For the new project initiation procedure, we’ll need project coordinates.
      • Navigate to the project site
      • Place your mouse cursor over the location
      • Read the latitude and longitude off the bottom status bar
  • 15. Mouse cursor Coordinates
  • 16. Fun Stuff
    • Inserting placemarks
    • Inserting polygons and paths
    • Measuring distances
  • 17. Placing and Moving Points
    • Use different markers
    • Add labels and colours
    • Right-click to edit
    • Possible project uses:
      • Points of interest (e.g., water tank, hospital)
      • Sampling locations
  • 18. Add Placemark tool button Marker style Add label and description
  • 19. Proposed monitoring wells
  • 20. Creating Polygons and Paths
    • Polygon: Closed shape, filled or outlined
      • e.g., Site boundary, building footprint
    • Path: Curved line, open shape
      • e.g., Road, trail, fault line, groundwater levels
    • Both can be drawn point-to-point or freehand (create lots of points)
    • Can edit, delete, add or move points
  • 21.  
  • 22. Measuring Distances
    • Line (btwn two points) or Path (multipoint)
    • Choose units: feet, yards, miles, etc.
    • Move the nodes to desired locations
    • Follows surface (“walked” distance)
    • Check “Mouse Navigation” to move around, then uncheck to continue measuring
  • 23.  
  • 24. The Really Cool Stuff
    • Importing maps, site plans, and aerial photos
    • Sharing files and collaborating
    • Saving images
  • 25. Overlays 1: Inserting a Map
    • This is what you use when your map has latitude and longitude
    • Map needs to be in a recognized format, such as PNG , GIF , JPEG, BMP, or TIFF
    • Map needs to be in cylindrical projection (or small enough to be close)
    • Memory hog: keep your images small (<2000 x 2000 pixels)
  • 26. Inserting a Map (Cont.) Find the map then convert it to the right format
  • 27. Navigate to known latitude and longitude
  • 28. Importing a Map (Cont.)
    • Show grid (under View drop-down menu)
    • Google Earth automatically re-projects cylindrical projection
    • Line up the map’s longitude and latitude using the handles
    • Slide image transparency to make it easier to align
  • 29.  
  • 30. Overlays 2: Inserting a Site Plan
    • More fiddly, inexact, but useful!
    • Same file formats
    • May need to capture a PDF or ACAD file and save it to a usable format
    • Include some reference points to line up with the terrain
  • 31. Site layout from ACAD file
  • 32. Inserting an Air Photo
    • Patching up the record with better or more recent air photos
    • Photos need to be ortho-rectified
    • Works the same as inserting a site plan
  • 33. Air photo to fill obscured area
  • 34. Google Earth jazz
    • Adding it all together, e.g.:
      • Draped maps over contours
      • Site map plus sampling locations plus wetland polygons
      • Project footprint plus fault lines
    • Support project decisions
  • 35. Geology draped over terrain
  • 36. Wetlands and wells
  • 37. Sharing Google Earth Files
    • Keep your files organized
    • Save the folder containing files to share:
      • Points, polygons, paths, map overlays, photos
    • Saved as a single .KMZ file, can be kept in the project folder
    • Saves small, easy to e-mail
    • Other people can edit and re-save
  • 38. Saving as JPEG
    • Allows you to save screen content as just an image (can’t edit points in Google Earth)