Google tailors Earth for DOD users

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Google wants to help Defense Department users fuse and distribute their geospatial data with the same technology that powers the Google Earth application used by 200 million people worldwide, Rob Painter, director of Google Earth Federal, said here at the AFCEA SpaceComm 2007 conference sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of AFCEA International.

Interviewed in the Google booth, which resembles the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, Painter said that although the public Google Earth uses commercial satellite and geospatial imagery, Google Earth Fusion allows federal agencies to manipulate and integrate their own geospatial imagery with the company’s software tools.

This imagery can include Digital Raster Graphic for imagery and terrain, geographical information system software, and land feature and 3-D building height data, Painter said. Google Earth Fusion allows DOD agencies to build their own “worlds,” he said, with the possibility that one agency will build a world based on commercial, unclassified information imagery, while another will build one based on classified information and imagery.

Google Earth Fusion is just one part of the Google Earth Enterprise suite designed for use by DOD and other government agencies, Painter said. This package also includes the Google Earth Server, a hardware and software package that delivers the geospatial database to end-user software clients.

The Google Earth Enterprise Client includes all the features found in the commercial Google Earth Pro software, including 3-D drawing tools and the ability to import location information from a spreadsheet. It also adds support for connecting to multiple servers to support enterprise search, Painter said.

Google has priced its basic Google Earth Enterprise suite at $100,000, but the company decided not to charge for the client software, Painter said. That way, one DOD command can set up an enterprise geospatial network and easily add a user in another command without having to buy an extra client, Painter said.

In the past year, Google has beefed up its team focused on DOD and other federal agencies, more than tripling its staff to 14 people from four a year ago, Painter said. He was reluctant to disclose customers, but said the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the Coast Guard and the state of Alabama through a grant from the Homeland Security Department use Google Earth products.

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