Thursday 16 October 2014

Using Google Earth as a tool for research presentations

MEED October 16, 2014,

Environmental and/or ecological educators focus on a broad range of topics from global to regional scales and although they may be able to convey their general message to an audience, it is often much more difficult to really drive home a full understanding of the spatial scale, the magnitude or even the impact of a given event or process.

Conventional maps are great for displaying one or two key messages, but lack the ability to tune into the interests of every individual and are generally difficult to tell a whole story with. Interactive maps embedded into webpages can be OK to play around with in the short term, but these lack guidance.

The Google Earth division of Google's empire has recently taken several massive leaps in the development of a full suite of new-ish user friendly tools (links below) to create customized guided tours & research presentations right into the program itself. It is now possible to quickly create a full guided research presentation with embedded slides, figures, pictures text, tours, overlays, videos and anything else you can think of. All of this is then shareable in a single KMZ/KML file (stands for Keyhole Markup Language).

The ability to play around with a presentation and tour within Google Earth allows users a connection to place. Files and KMZ projects can be added together & overlayed just as in any GIS software packages, but with the simplicity and speed of Google Earth. The links below offer some inspiration & guidance to help begin preparing material for your own project:

Google Earth showcase
Examples with climate change
Amazing case studies

For assistance in designing your own custom applications, tours or shows try working through some of the Google Earth Outreach tutorials:
- Annotating Google Earth
Storytelling with maps using Tour Builder
- Importing GIS data into Earth

R Programming language meets Google Earth: plotKML
Visualization of spatial and spatio-temporal objects in Google Earth

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