Data from video cameras can bring virtual cities to life …

Virtual globes such as Google Earth or Microsoft Visual Earth provide great bird’s-eye views of urban landscapes. But those streets are empty, transforming the world’s cities into ghost towns.

Now a system that can draw on real-time video from traffic and surveillance cameras, or weather sensors, is set to change that. It populates virtual towns with cars, people and realistic skies.

The video above shows how computer scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta put the idea into practice using video feeds from cameras around the city. Their augmented version of Google Earth incorporates sports scenes, traffic flows, the march of pedestrians and weather.

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