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Google Earth Introduction: GIS Vector Data

Importing GIS data into Google Earth

Example: GIS Layers

GIS Layers

Add GIS Vector Data

Native "vector" formats (e.g., points, lines, polygons) from some GIS programs (Esri shapefiles; MapInfo .tab files) can be imported into Google Earth (Pro and Enterprise only).  Google has a tutorial about importing GIS files.

Projection must be defined: These will overlay correctly as long as there is associated projection information included (e.g., a .prj file that goes along with an Esri shapefile). You may be able to use GIS software to first create the projection information (e.g., the Define Projection tool in ArcGIS).

Attributes: Associated tabular data is also imported and can be viewed.  Displays can use style templates that refer to attribute fields.

Shapefile to KMZ

If you obtain data in ESRI shapefile format, then you can translate into a Google Earth KMZ file to allow opening in Google Earth (no need for the Pro version). You can use the Shpescape service (without needing the ArcGIS program), or, from within ArcGIS, a tool in the conversion toolbox.  Here's a short blog posting about Shpescape.

There are several other conversion utilities available, however.  Please see the overview of available tools by Eva Dodsworth at GeoCommunity, although some of the features and comments may be getting dated.

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Mark Thomas
233C Perkins Library