Harrington, S., Teitelman, J., Rummel, E., Morse, B. et al., "Validating Google Earth Pro as a Scientific Utility for Use in Accident Reconstruction," SAE Int. J. Trans. Safety 5(2):135-166, 2017, doi:10.4271/2017-01-9750.
With the prevalence of satellite imagery in the analysis of collision events growing in the field of accident reconstruction, this research aims to quantify, refine, and compare the accuracies of measurements obtained utilizing conventional instruments to the measurements obtained using Google Earth Pro software. Researchers documented and obtained 1305 unique measurements from 68 locations in 25 states and provinces in the United States, Canada, and Australia using measuring wheels and tape measures. Measurements of relevant features at each location (crosswalks, curved roadways, off-road features, etc.) were documented and subdivided into three groups: On-Road, Off-Road, and Curved Path measurements. These measurements were compared to the measurements obtained of the same features from current and historical satellite imagery within Google Earth Pro. The accuracy of the relative measurements was divided into distance-based subsets within the three groups; for example, the error of measurements ranging from 0 - 12 feet to over 1000 feet both On- and Off-road were quantified and compared. These comparisons established the rate of error for each distance-based subset for the On-Road, Off-Road, and Curved Path measurement groupings taken from Google Earth Pro versus conventionally-obtained measurements.