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Google Maps and Google Earth

What can I do with Google Maps/Earth?

The Google Earth Outreach site includes a Showcase of different types of maps.

Here are a few sample class projects (the first four are in Google Earth):

  • Archaeological Sites in Peru - Ancient peruvian dwellings and roads preserved in an arid environment.
  • Portsmouth Mounds -  Native American mound-builders site in Ohio.
  • Shackleton's Journey - a timeline representation of Shackleton's journey and diary entries.
  • Odysseus - geographic locations for the ancient tale.
  • Pompeii Italy Ruins - A Google Map visualization that utilizes street view to create an immersive exploration experience.
  • In conjunction with the "Writing Britain" exhibition, the British Library has set up Pin-a-Tale, which is a crowd-sourced map enabling readers to add sites and information of their favorite literary tales.

See the range of what you can do with "50 Things to do with Google Maps" or "50 MORE Things to do with Google Maps" (both from the blog Google Maps Mania).

A number of cities are putting themselves into Google Earth, such as:  the City of Portland; Victorian London; San Jose, CA; Northampton, MA; and the City of Berlin.

PhilaPlace is "an interactive Web site, created by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, that connects stories to places across time in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. ... The PhilaPlace Web site uses a multimedia format – including text, pictures, audio and video clips, and podcasts – and allows visitors to map their own stories in place and time."

The Thematic Mapping Engine allows you to create a file of UN data which can be viewed in Google Earth.

Also see the GEHacks Download page for KMZ files of cities, events and image overlays that can be displayed in Google Earth.

How to put your data into Google Maps or Google Earth

Google Maps includes the "My Places" tab, which allows users to drag-and-drop points onto a map and add photos, descriptions and links. Additionally, there is a "Collaborate" option to allow editing by others.  All this and more is explained in their Help Guide (see also the complete list of online tutorials).

For projects requiring collaborative entry of data, you can use Spreadsheet Mapper to create layers for Google Maps or Earth. If you have a spreadsheet of locational data, you can also use Google Fusion Tables (not available with Google Apps accounts).

Some web services enable you to enter your data into a Google Map and display it on your website or create a link to it on the host's site:

  • Plug-and-Play Maps "lets you create engaging, interactive thematic maps in your web pages with 1 short line of code."
  • ZeeMaps enables you to create maps with your own locational data (including uploading an Excel file, for example for a large number of addresses).
  • YourGMap has a nice user interface for entering data with several options for displaying the maps in your website.
  • Wayfaring is another possible service; and Mapalist will map from Google spreadsheets or forms.

If you have a large number of addresses that need to be validated, you can use Batch Geocode, which can produce a file for either Google Maps or Google Earth.

Learn how to create a virtual tour in Google Earth or other topics through GE videos.

Many sites will help you to map your photos to their geographic locations; Google Maps Mania posted a comprehensive listing of these services. Great for that summer road trip!

Google Earth has a fantastic User Guide which will show you not only how to use GE but also how to create your own layers of interesting places.

Here is a very detailed Google Maps API Tutorial which will enable you create your own interactive maps using the Google API but does require Javascripting experience. If you feel confident about programming, you might also want to look at the Google tutorial on KML.

Links to Google Maps, Google Earth, basic help:

Google Maps Maps, directions, satellite imagery
Google Earth Explore, search and discover ... in 3D
Google APIs The "official" Google website for building your own maps
If you are not familiar with Google Maps or what it can do, here is Getting Started with Google Maps. And here is the product tour for Google Earth.

There is actually more than one blog dedicated to Google Maps and Google Earth. Who knew?
Google Sightseeing
Google Maps Mania
Google Earth Community
Google Earth Blog
Ogle Earth Blog (Google Earth and other virtual globes)
Google Lat-Long Blog

And here's a simple example:


View DHi Student Sample Locations in a larger map

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