Value of Google Earth 3D Modeling of Historic Structures and Context?

Are you on LinkedIn? Surprisingly, it’s more than just an online networking site that hosts your virtual resume. It has a discussion component. Sometimes the discussion occurring over at LinkedIn are pretty entertaining or informative. Today, I was intrigued by a question posted in the Heritage Conservation/Historic Preservation of the Built Environment forum.

Do you think that the Google Earth 3D modeling of historic structures has value (now and in future) as a record of the buildings and their context ?

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris via Google Earth 3D Cathedral Tour

I think the simple answer is yes.  Internet resources like Google Maps and Bing Maps have been used for some time by preservationists to record images of structures and their physical contexts. 3D images provide even more information. Images captured today, have the potential to be useful for years to come. On the other hand, images that are captured today may not be available in the future. Some sort of archiving system must be implemented in order for these images to be beneficial in the future.

Google Earth 3D models have the potential to yield a lot of information about historical sites because they present more visual data than most traditional sources (photographs, maps, drawings, etc). They can be manipulated to show aerial images, images of surrounding buildings and landscapes, and all elevations of a structure.  Additionally, the program is highly accessible and easy to use.

The value of Google Earth 3D images in the future really rests on the ability to retrieve the images years and decades from now. Unless some sort of archive system is created, Google updates will replace images with images of the current state of the site – leaving us with a snapshot of only what was there at the moment the image was captured. The updates themselves have the potential to be valuable, however, if an archive is created. Comparing images taken over a span of time could show the development of a site.  It could also potentially provide a 3D model of structures and landscapes no longer extant.

What do you think?  Leave a comment or if you are on LinkedIn weigh in over there.  (Or both!)



  1. Maria Fitzgerald

    Yes, I think this is amazing. Sometimes Google has “eyes bigger than it’s stomach” and it seems to take on way too many things, but this project sounds awesome and something virtually everyone could benefit from, even if just for pleasure.

  2. amandaisforhp

    Linkedin is awesome! There are people on there that post everything they write, every source they use, everything in their library, AMAZING. There is this one woman that is a bridge extraordinaire, I wouldn’t be able to do my job without her. Linkedin is the single best source of staying updated in your field that I can think of. Maybe you should write an ode to LInkedin. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s