A Peek to what’s behind Google Maps

A Peek to what’s behind Google Maps

Google Earth satellite image of USAOnce upon a time, Google was just a great search engine. Today, it seems Google is ubiquitous as it forges ahead on its quest to map every continent, the oceans, the sky and the solar system too. What may have begun as a navigation project to help get people from place to place, has grown into a project which would be overwhelming to most anyone. Fortunately, landscape architects are directly reaping the benefits of Google’s quest. As design and planning budgets are stretched and actual site visits are increasingly limited (or eliminated), more and more landscape architects are finding themselves relying on the imagery and information found in Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Transit to develop base maps, execute site analyses, plan alternative transportation, and even create designs. A recent article in The Atlantic gives us a peek into ‘Ground Truth,’ the project behind the building and proofing of Google Maps. Google also just posted on their blog about the availability of new, high quality aerials and 45 degree angle views – aka axons! Although Northern CA has not yet been updated, below are two views of Cincinnati that demonstrate how effective the 45 degree view can be. Check it out live on Google here.

Google Plan view

Google 45 degree view of same location

The current level of accuracy is remarkable, and getting better by the day. Next time you find yourself wrestling with the orbit in Google Earth, trying to line up a screenshot of your project area to match an actual picture taken on site, remember that this would not have been possible just a few years back.


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