One of the most common requests we get from users–literally thousands of times each month–is that we update or improve the imagery of a certain location in Google Earth and Maps. In order to provide the freshest, highest quality data possible, we partner with different organizations such as GeoEye, Spot Image, Infoterra, DigitalGlobe, the USDA, as well as national, city and county governments. At times we also collect our own imagery using planes equipped with aerial mapping cameras.
We collect imagery to improve overall quality–especially when we want to refresh data very quickly, for example after disasters, to complement data provided by our partners. To date we’ve collected imagery in the U.S. and in Haiti following the earthquake. This past Saturday we collected imagery over the parts of San Bruno devastated by last week’s terrible gas explosion. Google’s data and tools are used by many government and non-governmental organizations to assist in post-disaster recovery, as well of course by our millions of users. This San Bruno imagery is now live in Google Earth through a KML overlay link and will be part of the base layer soon.