Today, Google is announcing the Google Maps Gallery (see example of the Gallery's home page below), which, according to the company will "serve as an interactive digital atlas where anyone can search for and find maps by third party organizations, including businesses, governments and nonprofits. With Maps Gallery, users globally can explore maps by organizations such as National Geographic, World Bank Group, United States Geological Survey, Florida Emergency Management and many more."
A secondary objective of the Gallery is for organizations to publish maps and manage content whereby the data would also become available on Google Earth.
In a blog post by Google Maps Product Manager, Jordan Breckinridge, he states that:
Maps Gallery works like an interactive, digital atlas where anyone can search for and find rich, compelling maps. Maps included in the Gallery can be viewed in Google Earth and are discoverable through major search engines, making it seamless for citizens and stakeholders to access diverse mapping data, such as locations of municipal construction projects, historic city plans, population statistics, deforestation changes and up-to-date emergency evacuation routes. Organizations using Maps Gallery can communicate critical information, build awareness and inform the public at-large.
Last October, we published an article about Google's Public Data Program and a representative from Google stated that the Maps Gallery is the next phase of this effort.
Publishers who wish to post maps to the Maps Gallery will be free by using Google Maps Engine. These maps will be available in Google Earth through the Maps Gallery website and in major search engines.
Frank Biasi, the director of digital development for National Geographic Maps, said this about the partnership with Google:
Over the last 125 years, National Geographic has developed and published more than 800 maps, as one of our primary vehicles for achieving our mission to inspire people to care about the planet. But access to these maps has been limited due to their physical printed nature and their range of publication dates. Maps Gallery makes our entire collection and individual maps discoverable and viewable to the world through a simple Google Maps user experience.