Investigation of the Accuracy of Google Earth Elevation Data

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Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) comprise valuable source of elevation data required for many engineering applications. Contour lines, slope - aspect maps are part of their many uses. Moreover, DEMs are used often in geographic information systems (GIS), and are the most common basis for digitally-produced relief maps. This paper proposes a method of generating DEM by using Google Earth elevation data which is easier and free. The case study consisted of three different small regions in the northern beach in Egypt. The accuracy of the Google earth derived elevation data are reported using root mean square error (RMSE), mean error (ME) and maximum absolute error (MAE). All these accuracy statistics were computed using the ground coordinates of 200 reference points for each region of the case study. The reference data was collected with total station survey. The results showed that the accuracies for the prepared DEMs are suitable for some certain engineering applications but inadequate to meet the standard required for fine/small scale DEM for very precise engineering study. The obtained accuracies for terrain with small height difference can be used for preparing large area cadastral, city planning, or land classification maps.

In general, Google Earth elevation data can be used only for investigation and preliminary studies with low cost. It is strongly concluded that the users of Google Earth have to test the accuracy of elevation data by comparing with reference data before using it.

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Artificial Satellites

The Journal of Space Research Centre of Polish Academy of Sciences

Journal Information

CiteScore 2017: 0.71

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.302
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.703


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