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What's Next for Google Earth Mashups?
Jamais Cascio, 27 Jan 06

Okay, I admit it: I've become a bit enamored of Google Earth. It's fun to play with, sure, but the real reason is how well it illustrates big concepts. Avian flu progress and monitoring of polar environmental conditions are just two compelling WorldChanging-relevant examples of what can be done with the Google Earth application and networked access to structured data; additional WC-type examples that popped up this week include an overlay showing global fire data from NASA's Earth Observing Satellite network, and an overlay showing South American trade from the UN Comtrade database.

So what's next? Or, rather, what would we want to be next? What kinds of information about the planet, or human activity on the planet, would be enhanced by a digital world display? The ability of Google Earth to display multiple overlays at the same time -- the key information difference between Google Earth and the satellite view in Google Maps -- suggests that we might want to start thinking in terms of combinations. What pieces of global information would you find useful to compare & contrast?

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Here's one:

As a product designer I'm interested in seeing the solutions people are developing for underdeveloped regions - in 3D, of course. So if someone or some group is attempting to solve a localized problem that could benefit from additional engineering or industrial design support (and what project can't?), the work-in-progress or a "simplified rep" of it could be examined both by reading and by seeing/interacting.

This happens to be one of the reason's I'm interested in what the people at Eyelab have been up to. Besides OGLE, they've said they're working on a .klm exporter for Maya which will allow me to play with GE.

Posted by: csven on 27 Jan 06

1) Air quality, crime, crime, and arterials.

2) Income/wealth and green space.

3) Diabetes and asthma prevalence overlayed on all maps.

Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 27 Jan 06

No, I don't want to see "crime, crime". One of those should be "noise".

Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 27 Jan 06

The supply chain for a given product, such as an Intel transistor, a package of strawberries at Whole Foods, or a pair of Puma sneakers.

Show me where on Earth each component came from, where they were assembled into modules and finally the end product, and then where that product was shipped to and sold.

Posted by: Kim on 27 Jan 06

Also the dissemination of spam. Country of origin, time of hitting "send," and where it ends up. I can see "waves" of arrival times-- yep, must be daybreak in China right now...

Posted by: Kim on 27 Jan 06

A global version of for all currencies of the world.

Posted by: Gregor J. Rothfuss on 27 Jan 06

Flight paths and history of a single aircraft, meaning, a single Airbus purchased by airline X and traveled these routes over these times.

The could apply to sea vessels as well.

Posted by: Randy J. Hunt on 27 Jan 06

Physical layer maps for all local, regional, and global networks, data, voice, whatever.

Posted by: Ian Smith on 28 Jan 06

The potential for bioenergy (feedstock) trade under different scenario's, with revenue streams.

Supposedly Africa has the world's biggest potential to grow energy crops sustainably and to export them to industrialised nations. It would be interesting to see just how this would play out over time. (A calculus based on energy options in different countries, demographic evolutions, and land and water pressure, etc...).

Africa could form a kind of Green OPEC. It would be nice to see it happening on a map...

Posted by: Lorenzo on 28 Jan 06

..and corresponding displacement of African subsistence farmers and replacement of their valuable food crops with biofuel cashcrops.

I'd like to see a map of food and fibre production, then processing and then consumption of the same agricultural product. Perhaps something like this exists? I'd like to see the overlaps in trade between countries ie when they sell the same commodities to each other; or export a raw commodity and then import a processed/manufactured product using the same commodity

Maps of corporate sponsorship/donations overlaid with political/strategic alliances.

And maps of google censorship, teee he

Posted by: Flannel Flower on 28 Jan 06

Randy J. Hunt said: "The could apply to sea vessels as well."

Wow. Just realized. I have an uncle in Germany who has been tracking and logging merchant vessel movements for many years... for fun. I've always thought his documentation would be of interest to people. Imagine all the people out there just like him doing this. We might have a unique window in the past if we could get these people involved (he's in his 60's and has never used a computer).

Posted by: csven on 28 Jan 06

"...and corresponding displacement of African subsistence farmers and replacement of their valuable food crops with biofuel cashcrops..."

...and switching from poverty crops such as tobacco, whose international prices have totally collapsed, to energy crops, which improve the subsistence farmers' incomes by up to 200%, such as is the case in Malawi, where an FAO project with jatropha has been a great success.

High oil prices have dramatic consequences in the developing world, where states spend vast amounts of money on imported fuel. If they become energy independent by growing their own biofuels and even exporting them (like Brazil is doing), the state can finally start spending on social issues and on poverty alleviation.

Posted by: Lorenzo on 28 Jan 06

Air quality, pollen, pollution levels.

Cruise ship routes.

Terrorist cells would be helpful. LOL

Posted by: Romeodawg on 28 Jan 06

Air quality, pollen, pollution levels.

Cruise ship routes.

Terrorist cells would be helpful. LOL


Posted by: Romeodawg on 28 Jan 06

Crime data is already included in the U.S.

Posted by: fartles on 28 Jan 06

Having tried to figure out Geogaphic Information Systems (GIS) a few times in the past, it would be wonderful if a set of simple ways of working with Google Earth could become a de-facto standard for that sort of stuff...

I.e. an easy set of ways to add your own data to Google Earth: sets of numbers by state, by country, by geographic position, by zip code/country postal code...

And maybe it's already been done, but one thing I think would be very nice would be to adjust sea level for various expected possible rises in coming centuries (up to the 80 meters or so possible if Antarctica's ice sheets melt). To give people a better picture of what global warming really could mean.

Posted by: Arthur Smith on 28 Jan 06

I am very interested in both the supply chain and sea-transport ideas. In fact, I am willing to support an enterprising mash-up artist to build one or more approaches to these issues-- see: and link at the bottom of the page to our working paper on invasive species.

Posted by: j david on 30 Jan 06

Flow of oil and natural gas. Vs. solar insolation. Vs. wind speeds at various altitudes. Vs. human energy consumption (oil, gas, electricity, etc.). Vs. transportation networks (roads, rails, flights).

Information flow vs. commodity flow. ("Offshoring"?)

EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Invested) attributed to products, and services.

Combining the last two to provide a mapping of the embodied energy of products and services and the path that energy took from its source to my or your doorstep. (While there have been reports that the U.S. economy has become more "energy efficient" over the past decade or so, I think if you traced all the energy that went into a product or service -- e.g,. clothes from China, software from India -- you'd find that not to be true.)

-- PB / Washington, DC

Posted by: Philip Bogdonoff on 31 Jan 06



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