Tim Martin comments on the hype surrounding Google Earth, asking is google as much a hindrance as help to the GI industry? I think Tim is right to recognise some of the data quality issues apparent in both Google apps, but I think it is a mistake to see Google in any-ways trying to advance the traditional GIS industry.
That is not what they are trying to do, to be honest I don’t think they are very much bothered about the traditional GI industry, it is too small and too inward looking for them to care.
What they have done with great success is make “fit for purpose” geographic information available to the general public in a form that is easy to use and very accessible in the case of Google Earth, and with Google Maps, have made available a platform with which web developers can build their own map based applications complete with geodata – something ESRI has been trying to do for years.
Google are not likely to support spatial analysis in the near future because, it is too specialised and would be of little interest to the mass-market, rather than because it would expose issues with the available data. ESRI seem to have plans to address these more demanding applications across the web using their ArcWeb services project and will I assume understand and respond to the issue Martin identifies.
I thought it was about time I actually tried to use the Google Maps API rather than just talk about it, so I spent a couple of hours over the weekend building a simple google map application. The result Where’s ed? took just an hour or so to put together ( Can’ get it to work with Safari but the bug is a least recognised!), in contrast to build a similar application using Autodesk MapGuide, something I used to be very familiar with, would take a day or two and I would have to acquire the data from somewhere – something which could take weeks!
This is the one place where I think Google does justify the hype, in a few months Google Maps has done more to allow the individual to develop mapping based websites than the traditional GIS industry has done in 10 years. The democratisation of Geographic Information in this way is the result of two things, firstly a simple, slick API for developers and secondly and most importantly of all, the making available of a consistent source of commercial geographic information at no cost to the developer or user.
The advertising based business model of Google has not touched the Google Geography apps yet, if will in time .., but at which point, we the developers and consumers will already be hooked.
Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.