Denmark seen from the air – before Google


“Denmark seen from the air – before Google” is an application from The Royal Library showcasing aerial photos captured above Denmark from the year 1890 and onwards.
The Royal Library’s collection of aerial photos consists of about 4 million unique captures from 1890 up to 2010. The photos present an extraordinary insight into the changes in the cultural landscape and the development of urban dwelling and infrastructure during the 20th century.
This application gives new (digital) life to these photos and makes them available online to everyone with internet access.


From the outset, the success criteria of the project were to involve the public and use crowdsourcing as a means of securing location data for the aerial photos.
The original metadata of the collection is limited to flight plans and a handwritten ledger containing information about image purchases, sometimes accompanied by the name of the purchaser and occasionally the purchaser’s address. But this information is not sufficient to secure a precise geo-coordinate and other descriptive metadata for the individual photo.
We have therefore invited the public to help us out with the exact location of the photos. In the application, the user is able to pin the photo to the correct location and leave a comment or a tag. The user is then rewarded points corresponding to his/her level of activity and these points are displayed in a Top-250 list of most active users as a gaming incentive.
The project is originally financed by the Danish Ministry of Culture. The funding of 4.5 million DKK made it possible to digitize photos and develop the application for the area of Fyn.
Since then photos form Bornholm, the islands in Kattegat and an area in vest Jutland (Jylland) has been made available online.
The next iteration will include the Zealand (Sjælland) including the metropolitan area and Lolland-Falster. We begin to publish these images mid-June 2016.
Our hope is to cover all of Denmark in the future – if we can attract the necessary funding.
If you want to know more about “Denmark seen from the air – before Google”, please write to Kontakt biblioteket at kontaktbiblioteket@kb.dk