The Map Library’s digitized collection of approximately 1,200 paper aerial photographs have recently been made available to Google Earth, the popular online virtual globe program.
After catching Google Earth’s attention following a nation-wide news release, Google Earth contacted Map Library staff to request copies of the historical images.
With an eye to offering historical air photos to their users, Google Earth was interested in using the images as part of a pilot for writing a program that will georeference aerial photography. With historical imagery being incorporated into Google’s image collection in the latest release of Google Earth (version 5.0), UW’s imagery will be published and made available this March or April.
The process of converting paper to digital began in October 2007 and involved the scanning and georeferencing of aerial photography of the Region of Waterloo from the 1930s and 1940s. The digitized images have been made available online, offering high and low resolution images, as well as PDF and KML formats.
KML, or Keyhole Markup Language, a data format supported by Google Earth, was intentionally included as an optional data format so that individuals can easily use Google Earth as a GIS viewer to take advantage of the georeferenced images.
Once Google Earth adds the Library’s images to their collection, individuals will then have instant access to them through the virtual globe program. They will be able to view both modern and historical imagery, and use streets and other Google layers as reference points for identifying features and analyzing land changes.
For more information, contact:
Geospatial Data Services Librarian
University Map Library
This article was originally published in the Library's Data4U newsletter.