Vertical Accuracy of Google Earth Data


  • Khalid L. A. El-Ashmawy Civil Engineering Department, College of Engineering and Architecture, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Volume: 14 | Issue: 3 | Pages: 13830-13836 | June 2024 |


Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) are an important data source used in many engineering and Geographic Information System (GIS) applications. This paper illustrates a strategy for creating a DEM by utilizing elevation data from Google Earth and evaluating the vertical positional accuracy of the generated DEM adopting a well-defined methodology. To ensure the accuracy of the elevation data obtained from Google Earth, a thorough evaluation was done in three diverse small districts of the northern shoreline in Egypt. The evaluation process involved determining the ground coordinates of reference points utilizing two surveying techniques: total station and Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) Global Positioning System (GPS) surveys. These coordinates were compared with the ones predicated by the DEM generated by putting into service Google Earth's elevation data. Furthermore, the vertical accuracy was assessed using Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) data of Google Earth collected at two different periods in 2015 and 2023. The vertical accuracy of the Google Earth data is detailed utilizing Mean Error (ME), Maximum Absolute Error (MAE), and Root Mean Square Error (RMSE). According to the results, Google Earth's elevation data accuracy remains consistent from 2015 to 2023, and refining SRTM data does not improve the vertical accuracy. The vertical accuracy of the total station survey surpasses the one of the RTK GPS survey, and the elevation accuracy of the RTK GPS survey decreases with increasing height difference. In addition, the vertical accuracy of DEMs was found to be sufficient for some engineering applications but not accurate enough for precise engineering studies. The accuracy achieved in small height difference terrain can be utilized to produce large-scale cadastral maps, city plans, or land use maps. Finally, the elevation data offered by Google Earth can be utilized for preliminary studies at a low cost. However, to ensure the accuracy of these data, it is recommended that users compare them with reference data before implementation.


Google Earth, vertical accuracy, digital elevation model, RTK GPS, total station, surfer, SRTM data, terrain zonum


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How to Cite

K. L. A. El-Ashmawy, “Vertical Accuracy of Google Earth Data”, Eng. Technol. Appl. Sci. Res., vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 13830–13836, Jun. 2024.


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