Monday, April 24, 2017

Cartographic Skills: Google Earth

In this week’s class we worked in Google Earth. We overlaid our dot density map in Google Earth which we created a few weeks ago.  As seen below, my screenshot shows the dot density data for South Florida overlaid in Google Earth.

Google Earth comes with many layers of data but we turned off most of the layers in order to show our data overlaid on the earth. Google Earth’s base map is actually satellite images stitched together and projected on an interactive globe.  We wanted our data shown on top of the South Florida Peninsula. We did this by taking the dot density map in ArcMap and converted it into a Google Earth KML file. Arc has toolboxes in which you convert your map layers in KML or KMZ format. ArcMap. Once we had our data converted we simply clicked the dot density kmz file and Google Earth opens directly to South Florida, showing out dot density map overlaid on the earth.

After our map was layered in Google Earth, we created a tour of the data. We placed pin locations for for locations we wanted to tour. When creating tours in Google Earth you can choose viewpoints at each pin location and then start a record feature which will record each pin location to your preset viewpoint. When you click each pin, Google Earth smoothly fly’s to each location. So we started with an overview of all of South Florida and then flew into each preset viewpoint and then flew back out to the whole South Florida view again, created a seamless fly over of our data. 

I personally love Google Earth. I’ve been an avid user since it first came out. I actually have a computer hooked up to my big screen where I like to fly around and explore the earth. There are so many things to see from Google Earth’s perspective, that you’ll never see in person. You can put yourself on the ground, anywhere in the world, which is amazing! 

I have a joystick lynched into Google Earth and they have another awesome feature for a flight simulator. You can fly anywhere in the world in a single engine aircraft or an F-16. My favorite place to fly is in the Grand Canyon or the Himalayas. The joystick is also useful for navigating around the globe as the joystick features allow you to change the viewpoint very easily. I actually used the joystick to create my South Florida Tour. It’s a little trick to get it smooth but with practice you can create stunning fly by visuals. 

The visual power that Google Earth brings to anyone too explore the entire world, I think one of the greatest inventions of modern computer era. It’s one of the reasons why I’m in this class and working in the GIS industry as it opened my eyes to the world.  

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