Google Earth adds historical imagery

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Google Earth, an amazing free service which displays aerial imagery, introduced a new version, Version 5.0, that includes historical photographs. As Google said today in an announcement:

Until today, Google Earth displayed only one image of a given place at a given time. With this new feature, you can now move back and forth in time to reveal imagery from years and even decades past, revealing changes over time. Try flying south of San Francisco in Google Earth and turning on the new time slider (click the “clock” icon in the toolbar) to witness the transformation of Silicon Valley from a farming community to the tech capital of the world over the past 50 years or so.

This adds an incredible capability to anyone interested in land use or land management. I looked at several locations, and in the rural areas I checked, the oldest photos go back 10-15 years. In some urban areas they have 50+ years of photography.

It is interesting looking at areas that have burned in the last 10-15 years. I could waste spend a lot of time looking at the historical imagery.

They also added a Touring feature, which I have not tried yet, but it…..

…makes it simple to create an easily sharable, narrated, fly-through tour just by clicking the record button and navigating through your tour destinations.

I have seen these tours made with full-blown GIS software, but it would be pretty cool if you can do it with the free Google Earth service. Let me know if you try this Touring feature.

Members of the Google Earth team will be publishing in-depth posts about all of the new features in Google Earth 5.0 on the Lat Long blog all week, starting with the new “Ocean” folder in the Layers panel.

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