Google/ESRI Announcement in Plain English

The announcements out of Where 2.0 from John Hanke of Google and Jack Dangermond regarding integrating neogeography with professional GIS (perhaps not the best terms, but I’m confident readers understand) are quite a lot to digest. (Video available here.) But that’s ok, both companies are resetting their visions with regard to the other, to data and to services and it’s certainly time for that.

Here’s the substance of the relevant announcements teased out of coverage from Where 2.0, where the two geotechnologists shared the stage yesterday.

- ArcGIS Server 9.3 (available in about 4 weeks, per Dangermond) will make its metadata service “scrapable” into KML and thus findable via Google’s geographic search (once known as KML search). Further, ArcGIS Server will be able to publish not only that data as streaming KML (and GeoRSS) but also related services. Dangermond showed finding data from a Portland, Oregon service, visualizing it and then performing analysis, all from Google Earth. Said another way, all data and services served by ArcGIS Server could potentially be findable and usable in any Google mashup. Further, the resultant KML can be used in app that supports the OGC standard.

- ESRI has enhanced the API for ArcGIS Server 9.3 (JavaScript/Flash) to make it more conducive to plugging into other Web mapping properties in mashups.

- Google is making its geographic search available in its various APIs. To date it was only available via Google Maps and Google Earth applications. Now any Google developers will be able to do “local search” on explicitly tagged data (KML built via MyMaps or 3rd party apps like Platial and Flckr or your GIS!).

This is a huge step forward for geography (neo, paleo, and all the rest). It does indeed bring the hidden data and emerging Web services from the huge ESRI community out into the light of day. I’m very excited as I tried to paint a picture something like this when KML search was announced last year.

These announcements have some important implications for the geospatial marketplace:
1) the use of and demand for ArcGIS Server should rise
2) any geo data or services provider who wants to play on the Web needs to look at how it will provide findability and usability of its data and services in this way
3) geodata-finding portals may, in time, become extinct - if the KML vision for search and distribution becomes a de facto one as well
4) the technology may be available, but the institutional barriers to data sharing may still be blocking the path (as noted in a question at the end of the session)

Finally, it’s worth noting that a parallel project is underway in the open source community. The Open Planning Project (the folks behind the open source GeoServer) are showing off a new version that also provides KML findability. Part of OPP called OpenGeo (not to be confused with the Open Geospatial Consortium or Open Source Geospatial Foundation) was showing it off at Where. That means more choices such that in time even more players will have the ability to serve up findable, usable data to be mashed, and make the world a better place.

Published Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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