To search for places, you enter the search term(s) in the input box and click search. You can search by address, coordinates, keyword(s), and locale. Maps display information on residences, commercial properties, religious structures, schools, and government and other public buildings.
From a social science perspective, the power of this software comes from the “layers” function. You can view a geographic area and choose to have different kinds of information overlay the image, including information you provide. Some layers of interest to social scientists include:
US Demographic layer
US maps can be viewed at the census tract level. Clicking the demographic data icon (picture of the two blue people) will give you the number of the census tract. For each block group may include information on the following demographics for residents: age, gender, education, households, income, marital status and vehicle availability. Population data is currently 2011-2013 but may also include projections of five years into the future.
US Parcel Data
Property address with nine digit zip code, county name, assessor parcel number, assessor legal description, assessed value, and zoning information.
Global Awareness layers: Nonprofit organizations create annotated maps to illustrate and advocate for their work.
Historical Imagery: You can see how places have changed over time from the air by using the button, using the slider bar if Google has imagery from the past available.