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Digitizing Google Earth with a Tablet PC



Meg over at GIS @ Vassar put up a post that kind of hits both my interests — GIS and Tablet PC’s.  The new historic aerial photos feature in Google Earth 5.0 brings out a new level of use for a Tablet PC.  Head over and check out how some change detection is accomplished right from Google Maps using a Tablet PC and the built in Polygon creation tools.  The historic aerial photos feature in Google Maps 5.0 will open up a whole new level of analysis and this is a nice example of how having a Tablet PC comes in handy!




  1. Ken Wall

    02/18/2009 at 9:29 pm

    Have you tried the Tablet toolbar in ArcMap? I have supported many workshops projecting GIS layers for groups in collaborative mapping efforts and drawing areas of interest with a tablet PC. Some examples include wildlife corridors and linkage areas along all highways in Idaho, and areas of inportance for conservation. (see

    Digitizing in mouse mode in ArcMap is slow, but digitizing with a pen using the tablet toolbar while a map layer is open for editing works well, and is very fast. You can keep up using the tablet tools with a group “drawing” on the video projected image map with laser pens, or projected on a whiteboard , then using an ArcMap toolbar to commit it to a polygon layer when you are done drawing.

    Google also works well for tablet ditizing until you need to add to a map layer with hundreds of polygon areas, or if you are working offline.

  2. Meg Stewart

    02/28/2009 at 10:01 pm

    Hi Ken,
    We got tablets at Vassar College with the primary reason being use for field work. We love digitizing with the Tablet toolbar in ArcMap. Works like a charm. Here’s a video I put together:

    Another great use of a tablet with ArcMap is using a GPS receiver. Another video:

    By the way, I tried importing the KMLs that I digitized in Google Earth (I used XTools Pro) and the loaded beautifully in ArcMap. I think this use of Google Earth for digitizing with the tablet pen will be very beneficial because Google has added all these past years of aerial photography in so many places.


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