By: Amit Chowdhry – Contributor
Google GOOGL +0.21% has announced that Google Earth Pro is now available for free. Google Earth Pro used to cost $399 per year. Google Earth is a geospatial software application that displays a virtual globe, which offers the ability to analyze and capture geographical data. Google Earth was created after Google acquired CIA-funded Keyhole Inc. in 2004. Under Keyhole, the application was known as EarthViewer 3D. The Google Earth desktop client hit the billion download mark in October 2011.
There are several differences between the free version of Google Earth and Google Earth Pro. The free version of Google Earth lets you print screen resolution images, whereas Google Earth Pro offers premium high resolution photos. The free version of Google Earth requires you to manually geo-locate geographic information system (GIS) images, but Google Earth Pro helps you automatically find them. And the free version of Google Earth only allows you to import image files that are up to a max texture size, but Google Earth Pro offers Super Image Overlays that are more than the max texture size.
Google Earth Pro uses the same imagery as the free version of Google Earth. However, Google Earth Pro offers additional tools designed for business users like the ability to create animation movies and an option to set up measuring areas of polygons or circles. Google Earth Pro also lets you map multiple points at once and lets you access demographic, graphic and traffic data layers.
“Over the last 10 years, businesses, scientists and hobbyists from all over the world have been using Google Earth Pro for everything from planning hikes to placing solar panels on rooftops. Google Earth Pro has all the easy-to-use features and detailed imagery of Google Earth, along with advanced tools that help you measure 3D buildings, print high-resolution images for presentations or reports, and record HD movies of your virtual flights around the world,” said Google Earth Pro product manager Stafford Marquardt.
Data in Google Earth Pro that I find most compelling is the U.S. demographics information. For each state, you can find out demographic information in regards to the age, education, gender and income for the current year or the five-year projected. This data could be useful for businesses to conduct marketing research.
RockWare, a geological software company based in Golden, Colorado founded in 1983, is known for taking field measurements at the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains to determine the mysteries underneath the surface that are causing the tilts of rock formations. With a GPS device and specialty tools, RockWare plots the data on a map to gain intuitive 3D understanding of the rocks and then imports this data into Google Earth Pro. Using this data – Google Earth Pro produces interactive 3D visuals, which RockWare shares with their customers. If a toxic spill leaks into the water table, RockWare can model the spread and speed of the contamination using animations. RockWare’s clients can understand the impact of these types of geological events so that they will know how to act upon them. Here is a video featuring researchers at RockWare discussing how they use Google Earth Pro:
You can request a free key for Google Earth Pro at:https://geoauth.google.com/gev0/free_trial.html. The e-mail address that you use to register for Google Earth Pro will be your username. After you sign up, Google will send you a key to enter when you open Google Earth Pro.