Google Maps Courts GIS Developers With Google Earth Builder

Developers with their own geographic imagery will soon be able to publish it as a layer on the Google Maps API and Google Earth API. Dubbed Google Earth Builder, the service will launch in the third quarter. From the looks of the announcement here at Where 2.0 conference, Google is dipping its toe into the traditional GIS industry. The maps developers upload will be available via API, but only to enterprise customers who pay Google for geo services.

Google's announcement post explains the need behind the service:

In the enterprise a lot of geospatial data remains trapped on costly servers and inaccessible to those who need it. We’d like to help free that data and bring the same benefits that consumers have enjoyed for years to businesses and government agencies.

So we created Google Earth Builder. It lets you upload, process and store your geospatial data in our cloud. Your employees can use familiar tools - Google Maps and Google Earth - to easily and securely share and publish mapping data. No technical expertise or GIS training is required.

"It's the catalog in the cloud for your map data," Google's Dylan Lorimer said. "We process the data at scale at Google and make it available," he said.

The service, described in the video above, won't be publicly available until the third quarter. It's notable that it is part of Google's pay-to-play enterprise service first announced in 2006. Where traditionally Google Maps is aimed at any developer, Google Earth Builder appears to cater to the more traditional GIS analyst.

Much of the data that one would upload into the service would be created by desktop software, such as Esri's ArcView. Though Esri has made strides on the web, viewing data outside of its desktop Platform is an area where it has struggled. On the other hand, it's an understatement to say that Google has excelled at web mapping. Via its mapping APIs, it has a channel with which developers and consumers are used to interacting.

With support for private layers, which Lorimer says will happen via OAuth, expect Google to continue to expand its reach into a more traditional GIS analysis. "We want to support any and all ways to view your data," Lorimer said.

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