It is possible to search for all kinds of maps online; maps of countries, maps of towns and cities, maps of parks, road maps and maps of certain landmarks. This is because the internet has become search a central part of our daily existence; be it in journalism, education, entertainment, research and science or personal development we all go there for quick answers. Hence the need to have aerial maps accessible was not lost on the government and anyone else who produces maps.
Aerial maps are produced by incorporating other kinds of information into them to make them more useful. Street names and maps can be added onto aerial maps, they can be used in any Geographical Information System (GIS) system. GIS system s are indispensable for government, relief and rescue agencies, business especially in logistics, for researchers, in environmental impact assessment studies and for the general public.
The United States government departments have most of its aerial maps online or they can be ordered and downloaded online. The United States Geological Survey USGS through a collaborative effort with Microsoft have put aerial maps online on terraserver- www.terraserver.com.
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has a wide range of maps accessible on its site that include aerial maps of the United States and the world. Here you can enjoy aerial maps of the Canyon, the Sahara dessert, the Niagara falls and even Mount Everest.
On www.terrafly.com you can type any address in the United States and get a bird's eye view of it and the surrounding area. Terrafly uses maps obtained from USGS. You can delimit the detail you get by specify the boundaries you want in the result or by choosing the size of the image i.e. the height/width.
www.globexplore.com has aerial and satellite maps from around the world. By subscribing and logging in you can view maps of almost any region in the world. The more detailed maps are from the United States. You have to pay to download maps but they will come with no watermarks. Once subscribed, you can save images on the viewer directly to your computer.
Perhaps the most known and visited private sector online map provider is Google Earth, a free software program that allows users to view global aerial and satellite images. Users type an address and they can view the address and surrounding area in detail.
Online aerial maps are useful to researchers, educators and virtual tourists who love to travel online to places they wish they would visit. Tourists also use aerial maps to plan their visits; aerial maps serve to heighten their interest on the area in question. They can also use them to estimate distances and time needed to tour an area or landmark.