In an earlier post, I discussed one of the big obstacles to wider use of Google Earth in science: much professional spatial data are in shapefile format and need to be converted to KML, the format GE uses, to be viewed in Google Earth. Several converters have emerged including KMLer, KML Home Companion, and Export to KML, and the Pro version of Google Earth allows import of shapefiles.
Tonight sees Brian Flood’s Arc2Earth tool out of beta, and into public release; its new homepage is here. It come in two versions, standard at US$99 and professional at US$299, but with much of the functionality included in the standard version; basically this means that anything you can make in ArcGis, you can export to KML with one click, with control and export of all classic ArcGis symbology. You also can export legends, and there is a menu option for formatting the ‘description’ panel in GE with whatever fields you want from your attribute tables.
I’ve been a beta-tester for Arc2Earth for several months, and much enjoyed my often late-night e-mail exchanges with Brian, who has worked hard on this; I even found a few bugs in earlier versions of his beta ;->. So I’m also pleased to see Arc2Earth out the door, and punters now have even more tools from which to choose to easily make their spatial data more widely visible to the public via Google Earth.
In passing, here are a couple of example overlays I’ve produced using ArcGis and Arc2Earth that will be included as some of the many additional datasets in the updated rebuild of my first avian flu maps, which will be forthcoming as soon as I get a pressing feature article deadline out of the way…
The first is a screenshot of a draft map of poultry density worldwide per km2; the second is a summer/winter distribution map of one species of bird — the Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) considered as being of high-risk of transmitting H5N1: good data on species distributions are lacking but by at least my mapping what is currently available for each of the high-risk species I hope these coming maps for many waterbirds will be useful.