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Tragic events and Google Earth - a new kind of fascination

Monday, August 28, 2006

fas·ci·na·tion n.
The capability of eliciting intense interest.


From the comfort of your home office or the peaceful setting in your backyard many people today have found a new way to immerse themselves today's news. Most notably tragic events combined with Google Earth which give users around the world a new kind of way to view the scene.

Google Earth launched November 17 2005 as a downloadable program residing on a users computer. You point and zoom to any place on the planet that you want to explore. Satellite images and local facts zoom into view. Tap into Google search to show local points of interest and facts. Zoom to a specific address to check out an apartment or hotel. View driving directions and even fly along your route.

Google also incorporated satellite imagery into it's Google Maps mapping service on the internet.

Hurricane Katrina was an event that really made me take note of Google Maps. When Google scrambled to take updated satellite pictures of the New Orleans after the flood their decision seem perfect. Millions of users were able to view the devastation and the enormous problem that was taking shape in downtown New Orleans. Members of the NGA ( National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency) presented the "Hurricane Katrina Recognition Award" to the Google Earth team, as well as the Google Enterprise and Global Support groups, for their direct support during the Katrina disaster.

This past Sunday I found myself looking at Google Maps satellite imagery and the Blue Grass Airport in Kentucky. Comair Flight 5191 had crashed shortly after takeoff and I had seen some pictures at the NY Times online. I wanted to try to find the crash site, I knew details like the runway number and sure enough found runway number 26 using Google satellite imagery. Before I found that runway number I figured the plane tookoff using the large runway and never even considered the smaller number 26 runway. I later learned that the pilot had indeed used the incorrect number 26 runway and that is probably the reason he crashed.

Other people have incorporated Google maps into applications such as WikiMapia which lets users tag sites using google maps.

In closing these new tools will be used for years to come to get up close to an area of the world that has news happening. It allows users of the service to develop a sense of feel for what has happened and where it happened all from the comfort of your home.

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  1. Blogger Ed | 2:04 PM |  

    I find Google Earth fun, facinating and addicting. I have started a game of Global Hide and Seek using G-Earth: http://globalhideandseek.blogspot.com/

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