Sunday, April 07, 2013

Google Earth data for QLD

One of the jobs this week was to let Google Earth download and operate through a rather restrictive firewall so that the company could make use of additional data provided by the QLD Government. It sounded like they got the link from some bulk email, so I thought it wouldn't be that hard to track down once I got home. 15 minutes later and I still didn't have the link. I found heaps of references to the data being available, but none had the actual link to the data itself (or any indication where it was). Luckily I knew it was in the mining and natural resources website, so a limited search in there for 'Google Earth' finally got what I was looking for (EDIT: Google is playing ball a little more now. Lots of salient links filtering to the top including the actual press release that had the link included).

This data is awesome. Truly awesome. To top it off there's flood levels and images from Bundaberg 2013 floods and other flooding events to dig into. There'd been a bit of debate as to the water flow over Bundy north, and the images included give a great amount of detail as to where the water was going and how fast it it was flowing. I'd heard from another colleague that there may even be maps with water depth & water velocity floating around somewhere, but I haven't found them yet.

Unfortunately the KML link that is given by the main website doesn't stay around when you reopen Google Earth, even when you're signed in. I tried a couple of ways to make it stick, but without swapping over to the enterprise version of Google Earth there doesn't seem to be a way to automatically point to multiple mapping engines.

While sifting through some documentation there was also an indication that there were other services on offer, including QTOPO and MINING. A topographic map of Queensland that's scaleable? YES PLEASE~! I found a kml file for the topographic map, but it takes ages for the topographic maps to load and they seem to be almost unreadable. What's worse is moving the zoom in or out to read the map more often than not forces a full reload of the image. The Mining data is even worse. Locked up by a password :/. I did find some tantalizing images of what might be in there though.
Another discovery was an old kml file that builds an information panel of all globe services rather than a direct link to load the QLD Govt engine. This panel can be saved to your "My Places" folder so it's available each time. Unfortunately there's no link to the main data, but it is manually fixable since the kml file is essentially XML / html. If you're game, look at the properties of the link once added to "My Places" and change this line:
<li>QLDGLOBE -</li>
To this line:
<li><a href="">QLDGLOBE</a> -</li>
 All in all, a good afternoon poring over maps and layering more and more info onto them. Don't tell Sandy she also married a map nut ;).