The recipe for this post contains three ingredients:
- In Switzerland, anyone who wants to put up a new building first has to erect poles at the edges of the proposed construction, indicating the correct size and height, so that neighbors can check for undue obstruction of their view or whether development codes are being broken. It’s a kind of SketchUp Unplugged; on a typical day in a Swiss town you’ll see scores of these future buildings, leaving it to us to color in the transparent walls with our imagination.
- This KMZ file published by the local Stockholm government shows the exact locations of the 20,000 new homes it is building to alleviate a chronic housing shortage here. (Via the ever eagle-eyed Erik Stattin.)
- James Fee asks, who cares about SketchUp? He argues that for GIS pros, the lack of analytical tools in Google Earth means that SketchUp objects placed in Google can’t be anything more than eyecandy.
Practically, this could lead to the following kind of useful tool: First, imagine a special “3D Warehouse”, just like Google’s but maintained by a local planning authority, containing all the proposed construction in the region. The network link published by this database to Google Earth shows at a minimum the height and extent of every proposed building, accurately georeferenced, or even highly detailed CAD objects for some projects.
Then, imagine being able to mark off regions Google Earth as watch areas. If anything new pops up in the vicinity, you get an alert. You could mark out the line of sight of the view of the sea from your house, for example.
What happens next? If new construction is proposed near you, the network link will have it, and Google Earth will automatically alert you. You can then check it out virtually — and if it worries you, click through to find out more from local records.
This doesn’t necessarily have to happen in Google Earth. There is no reason why future versions of my newsreader couldn’t have proximity alerts for GeoRSS-enabled feeds, just as it now has alerts for specific words. But it would sure be a lot more intuitive in Google Earth.