Digital Earth: A political sphere
- By Brian Robinson
- Jul 17, 2000
As with everything else in 2000, presidential politics is affecting the
course of Digital Earth. Given the current political atmosphere, there's
no guarantee that Digital Earth will have the necessary support to go forward,
even if Vice President Al Gore is elected president.
That puts even more emphasis on the alpha version workshop that will
be held next week. It's important from the point of view of funding, for
one thing. The Digital Earth Steering Committee in April agreed to solicit,
at the least, seed funding from the various agencies involved. More details
are expected at the workshop.
That in turn could be instrumental in prompting increased interest from
the private sector, which is seen as a pivotal requirement for future progress
on Digital Earth. If the government is perceived as ready to pony up some
money for the initiative, that may be enough to convince those in industry
that there will be sufficient interest for them to continue their involvement.
All of those components will be needed if the backers of Digital Earth are
to convince the new Congress and administration that the initiative deserves
more resources, particularly with so many similar-looking projects already
"We hope next year to be able to show there will be some substantial benefits
that will come out of Digital Earth," said Ivan DeLoatch, chief of the data
acquisition branch at the Environmental Protection Agency. "We need to show
the business case for Digital Earth. We hope that, at the least, that's
what will come out of the alpha version discussions."
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.