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Sensors 2008, 8(12), 7973-7981; doi:10.3390/s8127973

Horizontal Positional Accuracy of Google Earth’s High-Resolution Imagery Archive

Office of Population Research, Princeton University, 207 Wallace Hall, Princeton NJ 08544, USA
Received: 1 July 2008 / Revised: 13 November 2008 / Accepted: 2 December 2008 / Published: 8 December 2008
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors)
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Abstract

Google Earth now hosts high-resolution imagery that spans twenty percent of the Earth’s landmass and more than a third of the human population. This contemporary highresolution archive represents a significant, rapidly expanding, cost-free and largely unexploited resource for scientific inquiry. To increase the scientific utility of this archive, we address horizontal positional accuracy (georegistration) by comparing Google Earth with Landsat GeoCover scenes over a global sample of 436 control points located in 109 cities worldwide. Landsat GeoCover is an orthorectified product with known absolute positional accuracy of less than 50 meters root-mean-squared error (RMSE). Relative to Landsat GeoCover, the 436 Google Earth control points have a positional accuracy of 39.7 meters RMSE (error magnitudes range from 0.4 to 171.6 meters). The control points derived from satellite imagery have an accuracy of 22.8 meters RMSE, which is significantly more accurate than the 48 control-points based on aerial photography (41.3 meters RMSE; t-test p-value < 0.01). The accuracy of control points in more-developed countries is 24.1 meters RMSE, which is significantly more accurate than the control points in developing countries (44.4 meters RMSE; t-test p-value < 0.01). These findings indicate that Google Earth highresolution imagery has a horizontal positional accuracy that is sufficient for assessing moderate-resolution remote sensing products across most of the world’s peri-urban areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: Optical remote sensing; high-resolution imagery; horizontal positional accuracy; land cover validation; Google Earth Optical remote sensing; high-resolution imagery; horizontal positional accuracy; land cover validation; Google Earth
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Potere, D. Horizontal Positional Accuracy of Google Earth’s High-Resolution Imagery Archive. Sensors 2008, 8, 7973-7981.

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