Using Google Earth as a platform

On the plane home from Adelaide this afternoon, I was inspired by a mention in The Economist’s “The World in 2007” that the Jane Goodall Institute uses Google Earth (GE) on its blog to educate people, to think that GE could be an excellent platform for all kinds of geographically relevant data. I went to an oceanography seminar six months ago in which GE was being developed/used as a platform for information about ocean currents and my brother recently e-mailed me a GE file showing several points of his adventures in India.

This could be accomplished by adding “layers” to the GE data – perhaps up-to-date social science and economic stats – this layer could be like a catalogue – click on the layer, then on a country, or a district in a country, and you can access all kinds of data/stats relevant to that country or district – eg local government/electoral boundaries, the industries in that area, imports/exports etc. This could be an good teaching tool for school students – instead of information presented on flat atlases of the globe in books, you can move the image of the earth in GE around any way you want, and it might make the relationships between countries more clear.

This press release from the European Space Agency states in part:

Ever wanted to see what volcanic eruptions, dust storms and changing ice glaciers look like from space? The European Space Agency (ESA) has created a special layer of content that will appear in Google Earth, enabling people to see over 130 new ESA satellite images including natural phenomena and manmade landmarks such as the Palm Islands in Dubai.

The new images can be accessed easily by clicking on the ‘Featured Content’ checkbox in the Google Earth sidebar and further clicking on the ESA icon. People can take a journey around the globe, exploring detailed images of amazing landmarks and finding out about important changes to the environment. Helpful information, bubbles of facts and figures, scientific explanations and theories will appear underneath the images.

I just found this link in which people discuss Dynamic Data layers:

Probably the greatest technological advance in Google Earth is the patent pending Network Link(TM) mechanisms described by Google’s Keyhole Markup Language(TM) specification. These Network Links allow individuals, businesses, governments, and other organizations to easily publish dynamic geospatial data layers and have them seamlessly integrated into the unified Google Earth environment where it will be seen by millions of users as they search the globe.

The great power is not only in being able to deliver custom dynamic view-specific and time-specific content to individual Google Earth explorers, but further in the fact that users can see many of these layers at the same time. Want see the weather in Chicago? Click on the weather network link, save it to My Places, and enable it. Want to see the Crime in Chicago? Do the same. Want to see the homes for sale? Same again, Now with all thee enabled, just fly through this custom information landscape and pick a safe, home with a great location not far from the river and in the price range. Want to know which of these are open today? Just click the “more” link and the integrated web browser will show you where to go. KML is a sophisticated Service Provider Interface (SPI) that anticipates and provides the context for just this type of personal data fusion.

It looks as if people are thinking along similar lines!

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