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Chattanooga aims to get on the virtual map

Last month, a small group of volunteers launched a community-wide effort, called Chattanooga 3D to put Chattanooga, Tennessee on the 3D Map. Their goal is to "Bring Chattanooga to life in Google Earth for everyone to enjoy. Architecture, attractions, businesses, streets, greenways, parks, art...whatever you want. It can be done."

The effort was organized by Karen Liwanpo, Creative Director, and Stephen Culp, Founder and Chairman at Smart Furniture, headquartered in Chattanooga. Smart Furniture was one of the early adopters of the Google 3D Warehouse. They used Google SketchUp to publish product catalogs for use by architects, interior designers, general consumers, and design enthusiasts.

Karen was aware that many people model 3D buildings for Google Earth, and she realized her familiarity with Sketchup could make it easy to do the same in Chattanooga. In the midst of one of the world's largest community visioning processes ("Chattanooga STAND"), Karen and Stephen saw an opportunity to launch Chattanooga 3D as one of the first community-inspired initiatives to emerge from STAND. And since Google SketchUp and Google Earth are tools that just about anyone can use, they were perfect for such a collaborative community effort.

While Karen was an experienced SketchUp user, she had never used the program for geo-modeling. So, she contacted us. She said, "We're holding an event next weekend, we'd like to create 3D model for Google Earth in real-time. What do we need to do to get people up to speed to model Chattanooga for Google Earth?" Next weekend? Yikes! We directed her to the plethora of online training resources, and also connected her with Chris Wilson, the director of the community modeling effort in downtown McMinnville, Tennessee. As a pioneer of community modeling for Google Earth, we thought Chris would be willing to share his learnings with Karen. And sure enough, he was - a quick call between them and Chris was arranging his schedule to provide a quick training session to the Chattanooga volunteers.

The Chattanooga volunteers are doing a great job modeling their downtown, and their models are beginning to appear in Google Earth's 3D Buildings layer. The project has garnered lots of attention, which in-turn has helped to create awareness and aid their volunteer effort. If you're interested in helping the group model their downtown, or getting some tips for your launching own effort, you can contact Karen through the Chattanooga 3D web site.

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