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This chapter is from the book

Tell Your Story with KML

The KML community includes people with a broad range of interests and skills:

  • Casual users create KML files to placemark their homes, to document journeys, and to plan cross-country hikes and cycling adventures.
  • Students and teachers use KML to explore people, places, and events, both historical and current.
  • Real estate professionals, architects, and city development agencies use KML to propose construction and visualize plans.
  • Scientists use KML to provide detailed mappings of resources, models, and trends such as volcanic eruptions, weather patterns, earthquake activity, and mineral deposits (Figure 1-2).

    Figure 1-2

    Figure 1-2 Display data in a meaningful way. Here, a team at the Alaska Volcano Observatory uses Google Earth to show an overlay of ash plumes created by an explosive eruption of Mt. Augustine Volcano. The colors represent temperature data. (Photo courtesy of John E. Bailey, Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, Fairbanks, Alaska.)

  • Organizations such as National Geographic, UNESCO, and the Smithsonian have all used KML to display their rich sets of global data.

You can use KML to add your own placemarks, geometry, annotations, and images on top of the base imagery of Google Earth. If you host the KML files on a server, you can even update your presentation on the user’s system at regular intervals or whenever your data changes (see the discussion of network links in Chapter 6). Publicly hosted files are indexed by web search engines for easy access by all web users (Figure 1-3).

Figure 1-3

Figure 1-3 Search for information on a particular topic or place. Here, a search in Google Earth produces information on windsurfing spots near San Francisco.

Personalizing your KML presentations is easy, through the use of custom styles for icons, information balloons, colors, lines, shapes, and labels. KML allows you to display features according to specific times within a given time range and to change the display according to the user’s zoom level, with increasing levels of detail shown as the user flies in closer (Figure 1-4 and Figure 1-5).

Figure 1-4

Figure 1-4 Explore the world . . . without leaving your armchair. Top image shows the path of a chimpanzee family studied by the Jane Goodall Institute in Gombe, Africa. Clicking the title opens the description balloon, which provides detailed information about the animals’ behavior that day. (Images courtesy of the Jane Goodall Institute: http://gombeblog.janegoodall.org.)

Figure 1-5

Figure 1-5 Deepen your understanding. Special projects like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Crisis in Darfur initiative focus the world’s attention on tragedies both personal and global by presenting photos, first-person narratives, and links to videos, all within a geographic context. (Image courtesy of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: www.ushmm.org.)

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