Google Maps makes my life better. i can honestly say that. i use google maps all day long and im always suprised at the different ways i can incorporate it into my work flow. My favorite part is their somewhat newish “My Maps” feature. Planning and landscape firms deal with many sites and multiple projects per day. Sometimes i will work on one, and then two months later, comeback to the job and have no idea where it was located. The My Maps feature allows you to save the sites location to quickly find it later. Theres also the convinience of being able to embed the map in a web page (shown below), quickly get diretions, share locations with others, have the map editable by the whole office…. the list goes on. Here’s the map of all the projects i have worked on across Virginia and North Carolina:
Of Course, there is always just using the satellite views to quickly beef up your graphics and to place a project in context. The biggest error i see with this, is when the satellite colors conflict with the colors of the rendering. Use photoshop to adjust the hue and saturation of the image so that the images blend together and the colors are more compatible.
Another thing to keep in mind, as related to Landscape Architecture, is the power of street view to get a quick feeling for a neighborhood. Hampton Roads has just been lucky enough to get this feature, and im loving it so far. Let me know if you have any other ideas on how to use this, or if you have found that other mapping services get better results.