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Mapping and modeling the urban landscape: Google Earth, SketchUp, Google Docs

November 5, 2009

Google Earth is an application that allows you to fly around the earth, viewing satellite images, maps, and 3D buildings.  Google Sketchup allows you to create and share 3D models, which can be added to Google Earth.  In this session, two faculty members discussed their experiences using these applications with their students:

  • Dana Fenton (Sociology) described how students explore questions about religion and culture by collecting and mapping information about religious congregations in a specific neighborhood.  Students use Google Forms to record data collected from the neighborhood, including photographs and interviews, and historical information. This information is then imported into Google Earth Pro, which visually displays the collected data in an interactive map.
  • Laxmi Ramasubramanian (Urban Affairs and Planning ) described how her students learned about the urban planning process, zoning regulations, and balancing developer and community needs using Google Earth and SketchUp.  Students used SketchUp to create 3D architectural renderings of what a building for the new School of Social Work/School of Public Health site in East Harlem might look like.  Students then imported their 3D models into a map of the neighborhood using Google Earth.  Importing the models into Google Earth allowed students to visualize how their imaginary building would look in the neighborhood and how the height of and shadows cast by the building might affect the neighborhood.

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