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Resources  More Useful Links

Supplemental Site Inspection and Analysis Tools

A number of online resources can be used to prepare for, enhance, and extend the inspection and analysis of a project site.  The following resource links are provided as a convenience and they represent some good examples of what's available today:

[If you have a site inspection/analysis resource recommendation for this page, please email us.]

Google Earth Pro

Access to online satellite and aerial imagery has been available via the free standard version of Google Earth for over a decade now; however, starting in January 2016, the advanced capabilities of Google Earth Pro are also available for free (be sure to install Google Earth Pro using the license key "GEPFREE").  If you have never seen this impressive virtual site inspection tool, then you can't possibly imagine all that you have been missing (to get started, install Google Earth Pro then enter the address for one of your project sites in the Search field and click the "Search" button; see Earth Help for more detailed usage instructions).
Users of AGTEK's PDF-enabled products can import a saved image from Google Earth and display it as a background layer in their AGTEK project file (see this AGTEK training video for step-by-step instructions).
Some Useful Accessories for Google Earth (Install Google Earth Before Using These):
Overlay AGTEK Color Cut-Fill Map
Users of AGTEK's SiteModel 3D, GradeModel 3D, and Earthwork 4D products can export a plan-view color cut-fill map (and/or corresponding PDF plan sheets) to a KMZ file which displays as an overlay layer in Google Earth (see a PDF with brief instructions or watch a detailed AGTEK instructional video for SiteModel 3D/GradeModel or Earthwork 4D).  The KMZ export option is not available to AGTEK Earthwork 3D users but they can print a cut-fill map to PDF, convert the PDF to JPG, then overlay the JPG in Google Earth per this instructional video for Earthwork 3D.
Overlay Topographic Contour Map
A limitation in Google Earth (standard and Pro) is the lack of a function to display elevation contours.  If a USGS contour map overlay (for USA only) would be a useful substitute, go to Earth Point's USGS Topographic Maps on Google Earth page then click the "View on Google Earth" button to open the EarthPointTopoMap_193835.kml file in Google Earth (a resulting Earth Point Topo Map subfolder will be located in Google Earth's Temporary Places folder but it can be saved to the My Places folder for future use).  Other USGS topo map overlay options include utilities such as Earth Survey QUADS and Google Earth Library.  See this interpretation guide if you're not familiar with reading USGS topo maps.
Overlay Interactive Soil Map
Are you unfamiliar with a site's soils and lacking a site-specific geotechnical report?  Go to the California Soil Resource Lab's SoilWeb Apps page then click the "SoilWeb Earth" link to open the SoilWeb.kmz file in Google Earth (a resulting SoilWeb subfolder will be located in Google Earth's Temporary Places folder but it can be saved to the My Places folder for future use).  This soil mapping tool is based on USDA-NRCS soil survey data, with coverage for about 95% of the United States.  The map displays soil types in the area of interest with supporting descriptions and, depending on location, additional details on engineering properties, vegetation, etc. may also be included.
Overlay Geologic Map
Go to the USGS Mineral Resources Geologic Maps page then click the "KML suitable for use in Google Earth" link to open the USGS-SGMC.kml file in Google Earth (a resulting US State geologic maps subfolder will be located in Google Earth's Temporary Places folder but it can be saved to the My Places folder for future use).  The map represents lithology via color filling so the interactive color legend should be referenced for interpretation when viewing the map.
Overlay State Plane Coordinate System Zone Map
This free utility makes it easy to identify the SPCS zone for any U.S. site and the borders between adjacent SPCS zones; it also includes a Lat/Long-to-SPCS converter.  Go to the Earth Survey SPCS83 for Google Earth page then click the "SPCGE" download link to open the spcge.kml file in Google Earth (a resulting SPCS833 subfolder will be located in Google Earth's Temporary Places folder but it can be saved to the My Places folder for future use; in order to see the zone boundaries, be sure to check the Zone Finder subfolder).
Locate NGS Survey Control Points
DSWorld is a free utility that makes it easy to search for NGS (National Geodetic Survey) control points located near any U.S. site, with the results automatically plotted in Google Earth (watch a DSWorld training video).  An alternate NGS control point locator is the Earth Survey NGSCS utility.

SITEOPS® Topo Lite

The ability to download a DWG file containing 3D contours (and an aerial image) for any U.S. parcel was a very useful feature of the formerly free SITEOPS Topo Lite service from Blueridge Analytics.  Unfortunately, following Bentley Systems' earlier acquisition of Blueridge Analytics, the free SITEOPS Topo Lite service was discontinued in 2017.  Equivalent (and expanded) functionality is now available via the Topo Import module of Bentley's subscription-based SITEOPS service but the cost may be prohibitive for infrequent users (infrequent users might consider the still-free Cadmapper service as an alternative data source).  SITEOPS' topo data is provided in local state plane coordinates but don't expect survey-quality horizontal and vertical accuracy (the 3D contours are typically sourced from the USGS) but the resulting topo data may be a "good enough" starting point for your preliminary site analysis and planning needs.

Other Resources

There are simply too many potentially useful resources to list, but here are a few that may be worth a look (some of the Google Earth accessories described above tap their data/functions from the NGS and USGS resources below) ...
OpenTopography provides online access to free LiDAR topographic data sets for the United States and other countries (see Land Information New Zealand's basic tutorial for Creating Point Cloud Visualisations with OpenTopography).
National Geodetic Survey (NGS) provides online access to data and images as well as a Geodetic Tool Kit and other utilities.
TerraServer is a provider of aerial photos and satellite imagery.
The National Map (USGS) offers access to a wealth of data, maps, and images.
KML Tools provides some potentially useful geospatial data conversion utilities.