Before the popularity of online maps, only engineering companies could afford this information, as one would usually have to hire the services of an aerial mapping company in order to get aerial shots of a town, coupled with topography analyses and the like. Then a geographical information systems (GIS) company would then have to input data into the map, so that roads, buildings, establishments and other data can be plotted.
Thanks to the popularity of Google Earth, Google Maps and other mapping software, online maps are now a very popular way of tracking homes and establishments on one’s computer. With just a web browser and a few clicks of the mouse, you can actually get a good bird’s eye view of your town. Here are a few ways you can find an aerial view of your town or city.
Google Earth. Google Earth is a freely downloadable software from Google, which lets you navigate around the world right at your desktop computer. The software is compatible with most popular operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS X and even Linux. It’s also a very capable GIS software. You can access a big database of roads, establishments and other information (such as pictures), and you can even input your own. Google Earth also lets users view different layers, such as the satellite (or aerial) view, roads, establishments, photos, and even traffic conditions.
To find your town using Google Earth, you simply key in the ZIP code or the name of the town in the search box, and the software will present you with different choices, if there are several towns with the same name. The default view is an aerial or satellite shot, and you can pan, zoom and navigate through your town right on your screen.
Google Maps. Google Maps is a lighter version of Google Earth, in that it can run on any web browser. It even has versions for mobile phones, like the iPhone, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Android operating systems. When you access the service through maps.google.com, you are first presented with a search box, in which you can key in your ZIP code or the name of your town. The software will present you with several choices if your town shares similar-sounding or similarly-named places elsewhere. With Google Maps, you can also look for establishments and businesses, which is a very useful tool when you need this information.
The default view on Google Maps is the satellite view, which shows an overhead view of the current place you are viewing. You can switch to a purely map view, or a “terrain” view, which consists of the map overlaid onto the satellite view.
Most cities around the world have already been covered by Google Maps and Google Earth, in partnership with several satellite mapping companies. Some more densely populated areas have aerial shots taken from specially-designed airplanes, since satellite imagery tend to have clouds and other obstructions. Tools like Google’s Maps and Earth can provide anyone with a computer or even a handheld device that can access the Internet with an aerial view of practically any town or city in the world. It makes looking for great places and landmarks easier and more accessible.