Monday, January 09, 2006

Who should host our data?

All Points Blog asks "will Google Earth be the new web library for imagery?" I think the question is probably wrong. I would imagine that the various localities will still serve as the librarians for much of their own data, or still store that data in some larger repository. The catch with Google Earth is that is only going to display the "best" imagery for a particular location, with the exception of overlays. So, for people that are making maps using public imagery, they will still need a way to download the data that they want.

However, Google Earth may become the way the majority of the data consumers interact with public imagery and other forms of geographic data. The reason is that the data on its own is useless, it needs an application. So far, Google Earth is the current leader in providing an application that serves up the best available data for the whole earth for free. ESRI could provide the data and applications too, but Google has the hosting capacity and the architecture necessary to get the whole world into a common project that runs fast. Just putting the data up there in a standards compliant format doesn't get you that. Just having an application where you can look at any data that's out there doesn't get you that. You need that combination in a ready to consume, high performance format- and being beautiful never hurts.