Good article in the NYTimes on how Google Earth is worrying some governments (including the US) because of what the remoted sensed images–satellite images and aerial photographs–reveal. Governments such as South Korea and India have petitioned Google to remove images of sensitive features. Military bases spring to mind but, for India, features even include bridges. The conclusion of the article? Governments may be concerned; however, the “cat is out of the bag”. Now that the images are in Google products–indeed, now that the images have been shot–they can’t be kept from widespread distribution.
The article mentions potential applications of Google Earth for emergency services such as firefighters. I can’t wait to see applications for environmentalists. Depending on how easily the keyhole software (the basis for Google Earth) can be interfaced, all sorts of filtering algorithms could be applied to, for example, check patterns of land use or deforestation.
Here’s a previous post on Google Earth.
I was asked recently whether online mapping technologies such as scalable vector graphics could rival Google Earth in becoming the next killer app. Saying that SVG is competition is missing the point. What Google Earth (and, more recently, Microsoft’s Virtual Earth) does is marry mapping functionality with data. Without the data, users will always have to scramble to find the information they need. Irrespective of added functionality–SVG and online GIS have far greater mapping functionality–these other technologies will be displaced by Google Earth and Google Maps. Google mapping products may become ubiquitous to the extent that they may become the de facto interfaces to other GIS software packages.