I use Google Earth everyday in my professional life as a community planner. To learn the technical aspects of the applications, I regularly read a number of blogs and websites, such as Ogle Earth, Google Earth Design, Google Earth Blog, and Tech-Ease at the University of South Florida.
Interestingly, on Cyburbia, I have not been witness to many discussions on how to use Google Earth professionally. To help get a discussion started, and hopefully to exchange some ideas and learn some new creative ways to use Google Earth (or other virtual globes and online mapping tools), I would like to share with you four ways that I have used Google Earth at work.
1) Show the location of a proposed non-motorized pathway The following image is for illustration purposes only (it's near Estes Park, CO), but once generated, it can be inserted into grant applications, memos to municipal officials, posted on the town website, etc. Of course, you would want to dress it up with street names and maybe existing sidewalk locations, but you get the idea.
2) Create an inventory of municipally-owned property Here, some parks are shown. Again, this image can be placed in appropriate documents and placed on the municipal website to show the public the wonderful recreation opportunities that your elected leaders provide!
3) Create graphics for special studies and reports Below is an example of how Google Earth might be used to show the number of curb-cuts for a corridor study.
4) Use the aerial images for staff reports Most community planners probably have access to a municipal GIS with detailed parcel data and have no need for Google Earth. But for rural areas that lack those resources, Google Earth is a workable substitute. In the following image, a hypothetical area (yellow) for a proposed shopping center is shown in the cover page for a staff report.