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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Visualizing Scientific Data Using KML and Virtual Globes


The 2008 American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2008 Fall Meeting will take place 15-19 December in San Francisco. The topic of this year's Virtual Globes at AGU session is Visualizing Scientific Data Using KML and Virtual Globes:
Since NASA World Wind (2004) and Google Earth (2005) brought the concept of a Virtual Globe into the general public's consciousness, our concept of how to view the planet we live on has permanently changed. Similar to the way the internet changed the way we store, access and sort information, Virtual Globes are reshaping our perspective of how best to visualize geospatial data. One the key components of this evolution has been emergence of Keyhole MarkUp Language (KML) as the preferred code for adding and controlling content in these technologies. Now recognized by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) as an international standard, KML is now increasingly supported by a range of platforms, including Google Earth and Maps, NASA World Wind, ESRI ArcGIS Explorer and Microsoft's Virtual Earth and EarthBrowser.

The Virtual Globes at AGU session seeks to provide a forum for users to exchange ideas, promote concepts and demonstrate innovations using KML and/or globe and other geobrowser technologies.

It's an action packed day (Thursday 18th December) with lots of interesting talks and interactive demonstrations. I'm invited to give a talk about Using KML for Thematic Mapping and the Thematic Mapping Engine.

I would like to use this opportunity to catch up with other practitioners in this field and exchange ideas. I will stay in San Francisco 11-19 December. Please send me a note if you are around.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Globalis and the Google Earth Plug-in

Globalis is an interactive world atlas developed by UN Association of Norway. The atlas contains a large collection of international statistics, world maps (provided by GRID-Arendal), satellite imagery, country profiles and information about ongoing conflicts around the world. It is possible to do country comparsions (example 1, example 2), country rankings, and statistical maps. The atlas is currently available in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.


We are going to make most of this information available as KML files. So far you can download various KMLs to Google Earth. We are not satisfied with this solution as the KML specification has limited capabilities of controlling the Google Earth interface, and the user has to switch between two applications. I'm therefore trying to utilise the new Google Earth Plug-in.


This example
, based on the Earth Atlas, shows how the Google Earth Plug-in can be included in the Globalis interface. The user can switch between 5 different KMLs about cluster munitions. The map legend and description are shown separately from the KML visualisation.

A missing feature is an indicator showing that a KML file is loading.