On October 9th, Steve Miller, Product Manager Google Earth, gave a presentation for Net Tuesday on Google Earth Outreach – a program that enables nonprofits and NGOs to use Google Earth and other geo-spatial applications to tell their stories.
Steve highlighted a number of organizations that leveraged Google Earth to tell their stories in effective, compelling ways, starting with the organization that inspired the creation of the Google Earth Outreach program.
Google Earth Outreach got started because Steve’s friend Rebecca Moore, a passionate environmentalist, was involved with Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging, a community group that was fighting to protect the from the San Jose Water Company’s proposed logging operations with Big Creek Lumber.
Residents were mailed a legal notice and vague black and white map of the area affected by the “proposed timber harvest.” Rebecca decided to create an alternative map on Google Earth to outline areas that the logging concession would affect and school districts that would be impacted by logging.
Google Earth Outreach is particular useful to NGOs and nonprofits that have multiple program locations as it enables them to organize information about each program and keep track of them geographically.
Damaged and destroyed villages are indicated with clickable orange and red flame icons that pop up a description of the village, and additional information like photos and testimonials. Top-line presentation is simple, but additional resources are available for those who want to learn more. Each window links back to the US Holocaust Memorial Museaum website.
Appalachian Voices, partnered with Google Earth to raise awareness about about mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachian mountains. By creating compelling presence and providing valuable information, Appalachian Voices succeeded in driving a large volume of traffic to their site and generating public awareness about their projects.
Some Google Earth best practices they employed included:
- A User’s Guide, which they placed front and center, which gives a site content overview and explains the meaning of different colors and icons
- Historical overlays of the region, combined with imagery – which presents a very compelling picture of the environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal coal mining
- Consistently placed icons to show where you can download additional data
- A Call to Action – which was to sign a petition
Within the first 10 days Appalachian voices received 10,000 signatures from all 50 states
Other product features that Steve highlighted were:
- Customization of placemark descriptions
- Photo uploads and video embedding
- Time span documentation, such as this graphical representation of world population growth.
Google provides extensive tutorials on how to use Google Earth’s powerful features. In addition, they offer a grant program which provides qualifying organization access to use Google Earth Pro, valued at $400 a license, which includes:
- Higher resolution printing
- Video-making capability – record videos
- The ability to import more data
[google, google earth, google earth outreach, u.s. memorial holocaust museum, crisis in darfur, nail, Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging, Appalachian Voices environmental activism, social activism, Rebecca Moore, Steve Miller, net tuesday, netsquared, net2, lorna li[/tags]