Author: Andres Terrazas, CTO @ Thermopylae Sciences and Technology
As we quickly approach Earth Day (April 22nd) Google is celebrating by releasing two important geospatial offerings: the new Google Earth and the open source version of Google Earth Enterprise as Open GEE. Google has perfectly timed their release of the new Google Earth yet a second time. Google had been promising a new version of Google Earth dating back to Earth Day 2015 but now the wait is over and well … it was worth the wait. The new version of Google Earth aims to not only show you the earth but help you learn and open your mind to the world around you. The new Google Earth features revolve around this theme of immersion in our world. The other offering is Google Earth Enterprise their enterprise stack that allows you to fuse and host your own globe behind the firewall. Initially thought to be deprecated, GEE has now been released as open source on Github.
New Google Earth
The Voyager feature brings you guided and interactive tours in very much the same way that the Tour Builder experience did. It allows you to follow along as you are taken on a tour of the Pyramid of Khufu in Giza. Knowledge cards fill you in on the relevant information about the pyramids by pulling data from sources such as Wikipedia.
The 3D button allows you to toggle the 3D view and visualize a place from any angle, which really brings the earth to life. You can visit Paris in 3D and appreciate important monuments of the French Renaissance all from the comfort of your own chair.
Don’t know where to navigate to? Don’t worry Google has you covered they’ve introduced a “I’m feeling lucky” button that takes you somewhere unexpected. Who knows what you might discover next.
Open Google Earth Enterprise
On the open source side of things Google is releasing three main components as part of the Open GEE package. In order of process flow they include: Google Earth Enterprise Fusion, Google Earth Enterprise Server, and Google Earth Enterprise Portable. All three products work together seamlessly to provide the user a way to process, present, and analyze rich GIS data in various configurations and environments: client/server and client/disconnected local server.
The Google Earth Enterprise (GEE) Server is the cornerstone of the GEE suite. GEE Server allows you to store and process terabytes of imagery, terrain, and vector content on your own server infrastructure behind or infront of the firewall. GEE Server provides a way to serve 3D globes and 2D maps and consume them with a desktop client (GEE Client) or a web-client using the Google Earth and Google Maps APIs.
The Google Earth Enterprise Fusion is the component that allows developers in organizations to build custom Google Earth Globes and Google Earth maps using their own imagery products. The Fusion product works hand-in-hand with GEE Server to host rich geospatial data. Fusion allows you to integrate your own data image files and publish the resulting database to GEE Server.
Google Earth Enterprise Portable is the component of the stack that allows users and customers to access their geospatial data in the field in a client/disconnected local-server configuration. The GEE Portable product is composed of two distinct applications: globe cutter and portable server.
All in all Google is delivering some real geospatial goodies just in time for Earth Day. Go check them out and enjoy. We’ll keep you posted on the developments. Happy Earth Day!