Google Geo for Higher Education Summit 2014

Just got back from an amazing workshop with the Google Earth Outreach Geo Team and 50+ geospatial educators, researchers, and lab managers! 

In between stealing off on the colorful google bikes  and spending time wandering the amazing Google campus, we engaged each other in discussions of integrating Google tools into higher education and learning and attended workshops introducing the plethora of Google mapping tools.

We had a warm welcome from Brian McClendon (VP of Engineering, Geo at Google, mastermind behind Google Earth, and creator of KML) who gave a great history of the program and the creation of Google Geo and gave an exciting announcement that Google; with the acquisition of Skybox is now taking to the sky with their own satellites in hand (contrary to popular belief, Google has not to this point owned any Satellites).  With this acquisition, near-real live time imagery on Google platforms seems to be closer than ever before.

Rebecca Moore (Engineering Manager, Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine) also gave a great history of the importance of Google Earth and its transformation over the years highlighting a number of exiting things to come and products not yet released to the public including

1. A new MODIS time-lapse!

From Maggi’s blog post last year on timelapse created from LANDSAT imagery we saw the amazing capabilities to see transformations over time with the click of a button. Now Google will soon release MODIS time-lapse which having a quicker repeat interval will be able to show seasonal changes .

Check out this example here showing fires across the world, and more targeted video here! Awesome!

2. Also great news for those of you tired of the coarse resolution SRTM 90 DEM, Google is currently working to produce a much higher resolution global DEM product…stay tuned!

Throughout the 3 days, I had the opportunity to attend a variety of different workshops and came away absolutely jazzed! See below for a summary of the latest and greatest from the Google Geo team with links attached if you’re interested and want more information….. Also stay tuned for some of my renderings and products from the training!

Google’s “Ecosystem” of Technologies


Google Maps Engine (GME): hosting data and publishing maps online, and ability to build applications and connect Google’s data with your own.

GME Pro&Lite: simple map making in the cloud, visualize, draw, import a csv, and style your maps

Maps Gallery: A new way for organizations and public institutions to publish and share their maps online through the Google maps Engine

Google Crisis Map: a map interface initially used for emergency alerts, however it’s not entirely dedicated to crisis as you can easily integrate and create your own map mashup and community awareness map here

Maps Engine API (application program interface): to access Maps Engine data, create a new applications utilizing the data, stylize and create beautiful maps


Google Earth Engine: (EE), Google’s geospatial analysis platform. Earth Engine brings together the world's satellite imagery — trillions of scientific measurements dating back almost 40 years — and makes it available online with tools for scientists, independent researchers, and nations to mine this massive warehouse of data to detect changes, map trends and quantify differences on the Earth's surface.

Earth Engine API (application programming interface) provides the ability to create your own algorithms to process raster and vector imagery.

Timelapse builds on Earth Engine to show decades of planetary change, both man-made and natural

Data Collection

Streetview: in Google Maps and Earth provides over five millions miles of interactive 360-degree panoramas across all seven continents; it’s the closest thing to teleportation, allowing teachers and students to virtually walk almost anywhere they dream of going. Street View began on the roads, but new technologies like theTrekker backpack or an underwater rig can take you almost everywhere.

                -Treks: Street view special collections (museums, up a mountain,etc..)

                -Views: streetview imagery crowd-sourced from user generated 360 degree photospheres. You can now connect your photospheres to create your own street view using constellations

Mobile Data Collection using Open Data Kit allows you to collect field data, such as text, photos/videos, and GPS location from an Android device where there's no internet connection and then publish that data to the web when you're back online. You can then export your data into Google Earth Engine for mapping and Google Fusion Tables for graphing, mapping and visualization. 

Visualization/ Story Telling

Tour Builder: Tour Builder is a new way to show people the places you've visited and the experiences you had along the way using Google Earth. It lets you pick the locations right on the map, add in photos, text, and video, and then share your creation. The new geo-enabled Powerpoint!


Thanks to Maggi for the opportunity to attend and the talented, enthusiastic Google Geo staff (including: Karin Tuxen-Bettman, John Bailey, David Thau, Christiaan Adams, and all the other workshop leads and those behind the scenes!) for developing such an action packed workshop!