Map-reading and map-making is a science, the subtleties of which might not be available to every lay person. However, commercial-use maps have been available for a long time now. They are especially useful for tourists and for drivers. The major drawback of paper 2-D maps was that they have always been location or area specific. While an atlas, in theory, is a collection of maps of the whole globe, minute details can never be divined from them.
Google Earth, the latest software application from the Internet giant Google, aims to change all this. One of the main features of this application is that it promises you minutely detailed maps of any location in this world. Even pictures of man-made building, trees, parks, mountains are available, if you so desire, in 3-D. It’s a method of information gathering for any specific location in this world. Google Earth is quite simply, an extraordinary technological feat. At a stroke, it has dominated the cartographical business. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection. Just download the software and you can discover the world from your desktop.
Google Earth employs the use of satellite imagery, conventional maps and extremely sophisticated streaming technology to deliver the data to your desktop. Just type in the location in the software (powered by the award-winning Google Search) and the map is immediately available to you. Also, Google Search makes available a list of local facts about your search object. This technology makes searching for schools, parks, apartment buildings, even hotels and restaurants anywhere in the world extremely easy. Not only does it make driving instructions available to you, location to location, the software also allows you to rotate and full tilt the maps. This makes it easier for you to explore the urban location or terrain in 3-D detail.
A great number of customization tools are available for the individual user. You can bookmark or save your favorite searches and share them with family and friends. Google Earth also makes use of KML. It is a data exchange format which allows the user to add their annotations to the map or the view and also enables the sharing of this information. The map is formatted in the form of layers-with some features characteristic to each layer. For example, a specific layer would shoe the geographical features, while another will make information regarding schools, hospitals, shopping and airports available to you.