Looking for a Google Earth Server

Then look no further than the latest release of GeoServer which has fantastic new KML serving capabilities on a par with the Google Earth Enterprise server.

The key new capability here is to stream vector  and raster data to Google Earth as the user zooms or pans  making sure that only just the minimum amount of information is transferred thereby giving the great performance you expect from Google Earth.

This release of GeoServer can also extrude KML with a height attributes allowing users to stream simple 3D model data to Google Earth.

GeoServer 1.7.1
GeoServer 1.7.1 serves 3D KML


GeoServer continues to develop into a serious enterprise application which no doubt is getting the attention of the guys in Redlands and is providing much needed competition in the market. From a KML perspective it is now possible for an organisation to self publish almost any type and size of geospatial database using an open technology stack.

And it runs nicely on my Mac !!!

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.

A conference rich in social capital

I got back last weekend from Cape Town and the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) conference 2008, easily one of the best conference I have attended recently!

The FOSS4G conference is like no other attracting the most enthusiastic and active delegates who as well as talking about the potential of geospatial technology, also get on and build the tools.

To be fair Google has taken some criticism from the FOSS community for not making some of its user generated content available in its raw form “think geodata source code” rather than maps tiles, and this was a topic debated with some feeling at the conference. I did my best to explain our priorities in our approach to date, and I certainly enjoyed the debate.

The Google team from our Nairobi office ran a workshop on MapMaker which is making great progress in filling in the gaps in mapping Africa, in many countries making mapping publicly available for the first time.


For the moment making this mapping available for free to as many users of Google Maps and potential Google Maps API sites is our priority.

Following my keynote I spent as much time as possible at the Google Booth, and it was great to meet and talk to developers for literally around the world over half of the 500 people at the conference had travelling to South Africa to attend, again and indication of the commitment of the FOSS community to get things done.

The power of the FOSS community is demonstrated both by the almost complete stack of open source tools which can be used to build almost any scale of GIS system, and by the projects the community is involved in; projects such as Ushahidi which uses a combination of Free and Open Source tools to monitor human rights violations in Africa.

I spent Friday morning following the conference at Trafalgar High School in Cape Towns infamous District 6 running a workshop for teachers on using Google Earth for GIS education at the same time other delegates were running similar courses using other tools.


If like me you are becoming a little tired of the introspection of the traditional and proprietary GIS world, check out OSGeo the organisation supporting many FOSS4G projects, and start saving for your air ticket to attend FOSS4G 2009 in Sydney… you won’t regret it.

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.

State of the Map looking good

State of the Map

I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend this years State of the Map Conference, but the schedule looks fantastic and I’m sure Limerick as a location will provide great craic. If you have not already registered, this is a conference I would really recommend attending, without question crowd sourced geodata will be an important part of the Geospatial Industry of the future, and this is the event to hear from the pioneers.

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.

If Dr Who needed a mash-up…

One of the topics which most often comes up in conversation when talking about creating new maps, is how historic information is recorded and displayed. Spatio-Temporal data modelling is a big and scary topic which has occupied the GI Research community for a number of years, and will do for a many more.

Today a simple and pragmatic approach to the problem has been introduced with the launch of the Time Space, which links a wiki database of historical events to their locations. This is not the first example of this type of web application, but the first in my knowledge to really exploit the potential of the community at a global level to contribute.

Timespace map

It will be interesting to see how this added dimension to user generated geodata develops, I can think of many potential applications, and it will be interesting to see how social history is represented compared to the big historical events.

Written and submitted from the Googleplex , Mountain View.

OpenStreetMap and the Rabbit Phone problem..

This week the innovative guys as Nestroia have launched an experimental version of their great real estate aggregation site using OpenStreetMap mapping as an alternative to the usual Google Map Tiles. This is great vote of confidence for OpenstreetMap, but it also highlights some of the problems creating geodata from the cloud.

Where OSM data is comprehenive the map tiles are often more detailed than those Google supply which are based on commerical available datasets. For example this section of tiles covering my childhood neighbourhood in London is truely beatiful, in many ways a better map than the commerical websites.


However the problem is that the coverage for OSM data is not yet complete, and where there is incomplete coverage, for this type of application, its use is a problem. Look at these examples from Wokingham, West of London and part of the UK’s silicon valley.

The Google maps tiles using Tele Atlas data are pretty much complete..


However the OSM version has a lot of missing detail..


Mapping data really does need to offer complete coverage for it to be really useful, some may remember in the UK in the early days of mobile phones there was an alterative system based on local hotspots called Rabbit. This failed becasue you had to be within 100m or so of a hot spot, unlike the wider coverage of the early analogue mobile systems.

Mapping data needs to be as comprehensive, with no coverage gaps, what is great about Nestoria’s early exposure of the data in a real application is to highlight where more volunteer work needs to be done to complete the work.. If this is achieved by the OSM community, the critic’s of open source geodata will be silenced.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.