The Google Earth mapping feature is being modified to help people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, in the latest of a series of modifications to the technology.

On Web sites such as www.scipionus.com, Internet users are adapting Google’s mapping technology to track storm damage, analyze aerial photos and try to make sense of what little information is available.

Mapping is one of the hottest developments in real estate marketing technology, with companies rushing to incorporate the feature. A number of companies have modified the free Google Earth three-dimensional mapping imagery for use with their offerings. Now, this technology is being used to help storm victims.

Extensive flooding, widespread power failures and general chaos continue to prevent residents from returning home, and limit the amount of useful information emergency workers can distribute to the world outside. The ad hoc Web sites were created to try to remedy the problems.

One Web site, www.scipionus.com, encourages users to annotate a Google Map of New Orleans with information about specific locations. Anyone with something to add can enter a street address and leave a marker on the map at that location, providing a few lines of text about conditions at that spot.

“Never flooded, typical wind damage, passable street 8-31-05,” reads one tag. “Trey and April’s We are OK ppl,” reports another.

The site was created by Jonathan Mendez and Greg Stoll, software engineers who work together in Austin, Texas, according to media accounts. It went up Wednesday afternoon, accounts said, and already has attracted nearly 300,000 visitors who have left more than 600 tags.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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