Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Virtual Earth

Imagine the many uses for 3-D mapping on the Web. Google Earth and Microsoft's Virtual Earth are hotly contesting the dominant position for this new capability. Consumers have glommed onto the platforms to share reviews of stores, restaurants and sights to be seen; locate themselves in the moment; track their travels; and "mash up" their own photographs and other content with maps.

You'll find examples below.

Potential uses by industry and government seem limited only by imagination. Already, we're accustomed to watching flyovers and explanations using these products on television news.

Improved emergency response is a no-brainer, but imagine how 3-D mapping could help in piecing together crimes, locating vantage points that must be protected during large events, improving response to health emergencies, etc.

Google Earth, in partnership with the U.S. Holocaust Museum, has created a heart-breaking window on the crisis in Darfur. The video demonstration of this project shows the power in visualizing data, putting it into context and combining it with human images and stories.

The looming bars showing where the 2.5 million Darfurian refugees have fled, the thousands of blackened circles that once were homes, the 11,000 destroyed houses and structures along a 40-mile stretch of just one river--it is an all-encompassing, riveting portrait of tragedy impossible until now. What if we had had this capability when Rwanda dissolved into genocide. Might the world have stepped in sooner? Will it now in Darfur?

Whatever happens, there will be no denying that we knew, in real time, what was going on.

No comments: