Research Paper Google Earth

Resources for Using Google Earth for Geoscience Teaching and Research

Google Earth has enormous potential for both teaching and research in the geosciences, but you need to know more than the basics in order to tap the full potential effectively. The resources in this collection will help you learn how to push the limits of Google Earth for displaying geologic data in 3D, for doing field work and research using Google Earth, and for teaching effectively using Google Earth. This resource is an outgrowth of the 2011 GSA Penrose Conference Google Earth: Visualizing the Possibilities for Geoscience Education and Research.

Using this resource collection

This collection of resources assumes that you are familiar with Google Earth. If you need to brush up on the basics, On the Cutting Edge has a terrific and comprehensive resource on the basics of using Google Earth.

Parts of the resource collection outlined below require Google Earth Pro. You can either purchase a license to Google Earth Pro or apply for a free educator's license.

Assignments and activities using Google Earth

The SERC site has a growing collection of assignments and activities that use Google Earth for teaching undergraduate geoscience. If you have developed an exemplary assignment or activity, we hope that you will submit your activity to the collection.


Corner graphic is Google Earth view near Nanzha, China the northern margin of the Taklamakan. Looking NNE from 39.731547N, 78.796463E toward the foothills of the Tian Shan Mountains. Imagery from GeoEye.

Apps ([2012]).Residential burglary in Guelph: Looking at the physical and social predictors of break and enters.Guelph: The University of Guelph.

The author examines the impact of physical and social features on burglary victimization. Assessments of private properties are conducted using Street View.

Caplan et al. ([2011]). Police-monitored CCTV cameras in Newark, NJ: A quasi-experimental test of crime deterrence.Journal of Experimental Criminology, 7(3), 255–274.

This study serves as an interesting example of how Google Maps can be inventively implemented in criminological research to reconsider existing research practices.

Eman et al. ([2013]). Crime mapping for the purpose of policing in Slovenia: Recent developments.Revija za kriminalistiko in kriminologijo/Ljubljana, 64(3), 287–308.

Part of this article discusses the project. Although discontinued, the project illustrates how Google Maps could be used to make the results ofcriminological research more understandable and accessible to the general public.

Fujita ([2011]).Why are older cars stolen? Examining motive, availability, location, and security.Newark: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

This is one of the first studies to examine the impact of variables measured using Street View on crime. This doctoral dissertation illustrates how Street View imagery can be used to measure environmental characteristics that exhibit a strong temporal variability such as number of cars parked on the street.

Kindynis ([2014]). Ripping up the map: Criminology and cartography reconsidered.British Journal of Criminology, 54(2), 222–243.

Kindynis ([2014]) provides an elaborate and critical discussion of criminology’s interest in mapping and cartography. Throughout the article, emergent digital mapping technologies and their impact on criminology are discussed. Several suggestions are provided as to how criminologists can harness the powers of these new technologies to come to new empirical insights and engage with the public.

Kronkvist ([2013]).Systematic social observation of physical disorder in inner-city urban neighborhoods through Google Street View: The correlation between virtually observed physical disorder, self-reported disorder and victimization of property crimes.Malmö: Malmö University.

This master thesis should not be overlooked by criminologists interested in replacing on-site audits with virtual audits should. It provides an in-depth discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of using Street View to collect information on the built environment in relation to environmental criminological research.

Odgers et al. ([2012]). Systematic social observation of children’s neighborhoods using Google Street View: A reliable and cost-effective method.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(10), 1009–1017.

Similar to Kronkvist ([2013]), Odgers et al. ([2012]) examine the suitability of a virtual neighborhood audit to collect criminologically relevant characteristics of the built environment, such as physical disorder and decay.

Rundle et al. ([2011]). Using Google Street View to audit neighborhood environments.American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40(1), 94–100.

Rundle et al. ([2011]) evaluate the feasibility of using Street View to audit the built environment. Their article is a good introduction to the literature on the matter and contains a comprehensive overview of the strengths and weaknesses related to using this method.

Summers et al. ([2010]). The use of maps in offender interviewing. In W. Bernasco (Ed.),Offenders on offending: Learning about crime from criminals(pp. 246–272). Cullompton: Willan Publishing.

Summers et al. ([2010]) focus on conventional maps rather than web-based mapping technologies. Nevertheless, this book chapter is a must-read since it provides essential background to the use of maps in general in criminological research.

Van Daele et al. ([2012]). Technische hulpmiddelen en doelwitselectie bij woninginbraak: Een experimenteel onderzoek naar de invloed van Google Maps en Google Street View.Tijdschrift voor Criminologie, 54(4), 362–373.

This study has been discussed in this article. It is, to the author’s knowledge, the only study to date that addresses substantive criminological questions related to the availability of Google Maps and Street View. Moreover, the authors implemented Google Maps and Street View in their research design. It is published in Dutch.

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