How Google Earth Ate Our Town: Interesting story about how Nanaimo, British Columbia has become a huge testbed for Google Earth. The city is giving Google reams of data, and Google is exposing that in Google Earth.
The city’s planning department has, over the past five years, steadily fed Google a wealth of information about its buildings, property lines, utilities and streets. The result is earth.nanaimo.ca, a clearinghouse of city data viewed through the robust and freely available Google Earth 3D mapping program. The site sorts and maps every business, from restaurants to car dealers, while a click of the mouse brings up the lot size for every property in the city, including the building permit number and zoning history. Homeowners can use the facility to find out specific information about their garbage collection schedule, while the city’s 150-year-old downtown core is rendered in 3D and dotted with 360-degree panoramas.
[…]The Google fire service allows people to avoid accident sites by tuning electronic devices to automatic updates from the city’s RSS news feed, says fire captain Dean Ford. Eventually, Nanaimo plans to equip its grass-cutting machines with GPS devices, so residents piqued by the apparent shabbiness of a particular park or grass verge can use Google to find out when last it was groomed by the city’s gardening staff. And the city’s cemeteries will soon be mapped to allow internet users to find out who is buried in each plot, says Kristensen.