Google Products Overview

Google Maps

Google Maps is free and allows the user to choose from a variety of basemaps, upload files, and draw features onto the map.

Google Maps Engine

Google Maps Engine is similar to Google Maps but it has more capabilities and is not free. Google Maps Engine can support a wider variety of file uploads, more complex maps and has more sharing options.

Google Earth Pro

Google Earth Pro is the paid version of Google Earth. Unlike Google Maps and Engine it uses high quality satellite imagery and 3D imagery. The user can create maps, model new buildings, and create a video of 3D imagery.

Google Earth Tourbuilder

Google Earth Tourbuilder is free and uses Google Earth imagery to allow the user to create a tour.

Google Crisis Response

Google Crisis Response responds mainly to natural disasters. Often Google Crisis Response will have a resource page and host a crisis map with information from authorities and the crowd. Google Crisis Response also has a variety of products for responders.


Google Earth Pro


Name: Google Earth Pro
$: 399.00 per year per user
Examples: Roma in Italy (featured image), Eritrea’s Forgotten Prisons Exposed
Level: Intermediate
Use For: Visually representing research; Spatial Analysis


Google Earth Pro allows the user to use Google Earth imagery to create maps, videos and conduct spatial analysis. Google Earth Pro costs $399.00 per year per user, however Google does have a grants program for schools and nonprofits. Google Earth Pro has many features, such as importing GIS data, map making, and creating movies, that are unavailable with the free version of Google Earth.


Google Earth Pro allows the user to create maps in a variety of ways. The user can draw polygons, lines, points, and paths into Google Earth directly or the user can upload a variety of files including Shape and KML files. Images can be uploaded and set to overlay Google Earth’s imagery. Google Earth Pro has a tool to import CSV spreadsheets to allow for easy mapping of Geocoded data.

Google Earth Pro

Once the data has been mapped it is possible to change the color, title and other attributes of the data set. To finalize the map the user can add a legend, directional indicator, scale and title. Maps can be printed, saved as an image or PDF, or exported as a KML.

Information and Modeling:

Google Earth Pro allows the user to measure distances and areas. This tool can be used to determine the size of a refugee camp or prison that a researcher cannot visit. It can also be used to determine the distance of a location from critical resources like water or food. Google Earth Pro takes advantage of Google Earth’s 3D imagery, allowing the user to determine the line of sight from a location and model 3D buildings. Google Earth Pro also has pre-made maps that display demographic and traffic count data.


Google Earth Pro allows the user to record and save 3D viewer imagery. This imagery can be published to a website or used in a video. Eritrea’s Forgotten Prisons Exposed demonstrates how imagery from Google Earth Pro can be incorporated into a video to give the viewer a sense of a location that is inaccessible to camera crews.