NOAA, Google partner on data visualization project

Google software will be used to display National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Google have agreed to jointly develop technology that will visualize the agency's scientific data by using Google’s software, NOAA officials announced today.

NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with Google, according to NOAA.

Under the agreement, the agency and Google plan to work together on research and development to join NOAA’s oceanographic, meteorological, biological and climatological data with Google’s software.

NOAA officials hope the wide availability of Google’s Internet tools will deliver visualizations of NOAA data to new audiences around the world. The agreement lists six topic areas in which the agency and Google may pursue cooperative research projects:

  • Engaging the public in ongoing and historic scientific expeditions, including those of the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer.
  • Compiling and improving underwater datasets for display in Google Earth and making them available for downloading.
  • Expanding the agency's efforts to publish oceanographic data, especially data from the NOAA-led Integrated Ocean Observing System.
  • Expanding the agency's efforts to publish climate data, especially data from the greenhouse gas monitoring system.
  • Increasing the amount of data available for NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, an educational earth science display system, by adapting it to display files in the Keyhole Markup Language, the file format Google Earth and Google Maps use for geographic data.
  • Providing interactive access to marine zoning and regulatory information concerning regions such as continental shelf boundaries and marine protected areas.

The agreement will allow the agency to pursue projects that are beyond the limits of its in-house technological resources, according to NOAA.

NOAA and Google previously worked together to bring a Great Lakes feature to Google Earth and to include NOAA information in the Ocean in Google Earth tool.

“Through this agreement, Google’s technical expertise will help to improve access to NOAA data in ways that allow the scientific community and the public to better use our information to understand earth science and make informed decisions,” said Richard Spinrad, NOAA’s assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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