Links: Virtual Earth imports KML; Antarctic Traverse live

  • MSFT + KML, cont.: Virtual Earth’s API now lets you import KML and GPX data, and there was a new update to the imagery over the weekend. Neocons, before giving Google any more of a hard time for their Israel imagery, kindly go check out Jerusalem on Virtual Earth.
  • Antarctic Traverse live: The Norwegian-US Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica is currently underway, in which a bunch of lucky scientists get to drive to the South Pole across the world’s largest ice sheet with monster trucks. The whole thing is mapped to KML live here.
  • Swedish imagery: I was going to turn this into a post but time was lacking: An article in Sweden’s Ny Teknik (in Swedish) explains why Sweden’s imagery is so poor in Google Earth. There exists a lot of aerial photography of Sweden, but it is being closely held by Sweden’s national geographic agency, Lantm√§teriverket. Just like with the UK’s Ordnance Survey, existing licensing terms would make it prohibitive for Google to incorporate all the imagery in Google Earth — in fact, it would cost Google USD1.9 million per year to use it, says Google in the article.

    What options are there? Google could do like Microsoft, and commission its own aerial imagery — many Swedish towns are now visible in glorious bird’s eye view in Virtual Earth. Or it could strike deals with individual communities — in the last update, Ume√• made sure it is in high resolution by donating its imagery to Google. Smart move, but such an ad hoc solution is a lot of work, considering how many communities there are.

  • India hearts Google Earth? And another story from a while back, spiked for lack of time: At the occasion of the launch of the Millennium Development Goal Monitor, Indian media found the opportunity to ask Google Earth CTO Michael Jones whether India had ever asked or demanded the censorship of Indian imagery. The answer?
    ”We talked to them. We meet with them. We travel constantly to India. We do not want to be a problem. We go and talk to them and say how do you feel about this? Of course every country is nervous; nervous is the wrong word; when something is new and more dated than before. They are just curious if this is going to be good or bad,” he said.

    Jones said there has been no attempt ever not to show the information it has. ”Everything, we have we show. As soon as we get data, we publish it. We buy satellite data. We buy airplane data. That is what we show in Google earth, all the data we have got so far,” Jones said.

    Cough Basra cough. Still, as if to back up Jones’s substantive point, India’s new army chief Deepak Kapoor is “not losing sleep” over Google Earth, reports “Kapoor feels that Army needs to take the new technology into its stride and adjust their war doctrines accordingly.” He seems to be part of the new guard of Indian military leaders, which is encouraging.

  • Sky pictures: steph:s layer for Google Sky adds gorgeous overlay pictures from Johannes Hevelius’s 1690 star atlas Firmamentum Sobiescianum. What I’m still looking for, however, is an overlay that contains the boundaries between constellations, which is much more useful to amateur astronomers. Anybody found such a layer yet? Or made one?
  • Mirror Says: From last week, a somewhat hysterical article by the UK’s Daily Mirror in which Ed Parsons makes a valiant attempt to explain why Google Earth is Good ™.
  • Audio + KML: Richard Treves shows you how to make a self-paced audio tour of placemarks by embedding a Flash application into KML, though it is usable only with the PC version of Google Earth — I’d add a link to a place on the web where you can hear the tour for non-Windows users, as a fall-back.

4 thoughts on “Links: Virtual Earth imports KML; Antarctic Traverse live”

  1. Just to add something about National Land Surveys licensing policy: They also demand money to provide other government agencies with orthophoto and map data. About 60% of their license revenues come from other publicly funded bodies. This is supposedly economically rational. As a poor archaeologist I’ve never quite seen the point. In the end I think that organisations like the Swedish land survey or the British Ordnance Survey will either have to radically change their licensing policies or lose their customers. EU initiatives such as INSPIRE are also pretty useless since finding public envioronmental data isn’t the problem, paying for it is.

  2. There are however still some minor caveats with KML in VE – They stream the KML to their server and return it in CML, their own format, rather than pulling it directly into the browser. Polygons get generalized for faster performance, but suffer significantly in quality. Some KML capabilities, such as custom icon scaling and some of the embedded HTML for popup bubbles are not well-supported… But the Microsoft team is working hard on it and are making rapid progress.

  3. GE is awsome. I am trying to create network for Center for Missing Children and the like that would enable Dads like myself to locate an abduction of a loved one using Googles’ imagery data. I call it “Emily’s Eyes” after my 12 yr old girl. Surely there is an image of OJ running from his wife’s murder scene or an image of Scott Peterson dumping his wife Laci in the bay somewhere on an info disk. Is this network workable with Google and would they be of interest in helping the lawman solve crimes and save the lives of abducted children?? Thank you for your tme. Scott Ray, a scared dad of a beautiful teen doll.

Comments are closed.