Google Earth Pro Is Now Free


Who doesn’t love Google Earth? The basic version has done a lot to lower the barriers to entry to basic ways of visualizing spatial data. Prior ProfHacker posts on Google Earth include Konrad’s explanation of how to add an image to Earth to look at historical changes, and Erin Sells’s assignment for mapping novels.

In case you missed it, on Friday Google announced that they have reduced the price of their professional-grade version, Google Earth Pro, from USD$399/year to free. Google Earth Pro adds several interesting features, some of which might be more widely interesting: it lets you work with ArcGIS data, access different data layers, batch geocode addresses, print high-resolution images, record movies, and more.

Even when the software was fee-based, people were already using it in interesting ways. The photo above, for example, is from a project called “Mapping Detroit’s Hidden Social Geographies”, in which students printed out high-resolution images of neighborhoods from Google Earth Pro, marked them up for old structures, and then drove around to document them. As you might imagine, geography and environmental sciences have also put it to good use, as in this assignment about visualizing the Puget Sound Watershed.

To get Google Earth Pro, you still need a registration key, which you can get for free here. Then, download the software, fill in the key when prompted, and you’re in! You can find resources for using Google Earth from Google or from Glenn A. Richards’s “Teaching with Google Earth.”

Do you have a favorite academic use of Google Earth Pro? Let us know in comments!

Photo “Mapping Detroit’s Hidden Social Geographies” by Flickr user University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0

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