October 02, 2006
Blog 3: Rise and Improvement of Google Earth
Google Earth has been a major growing service in recent years. Using satellites, it offers views of most countries, towns, and even houses around the world. Recently, members of Google Earth’s technology team have been working on ways to expand the program by offering more in-depth and high-resolution satellite images (Click for article.). In addition, the team is also trying to develop more local additions. They also hope to expand their worldwide audience by offering Google Earth in even more languages..
Developers see Google Earth as becoming more of an asset with these improvements. Michael Jones, Chief Technology Officer of Google Earth, believes that improvements such as adding local data can create a, “second wave of interest from those who want to use this in useful ways, like plan trips.”
Google hopes, that by improving their site, it will create a greater market for advertisements, both locally and nationally. By creating more local data and improving the program it will create new advertising opportunities and a great potential to increase revenue. Namely, it will drive millions of additional users to Google Earth, which translates into higher banner fees for Google Earth. It can also increase the brand name value of Google, building goodwill in the business community. With these improvements, the advertisements can be specific to areas and countries, and vary with searches.
These improvements will also provide new opportunities and further services to individuals. They will expand on the already free service which enables you to search the world by offering new services along with it, and providing greater detail. These new services include offering directions and sorting searches by purpose (sightseeing, area of interest, home). They also store previous searches and enable you to view and search for businesses.
Google is also developing a new product called “Google Earth for Enterprise” which was created to “help[ing] governments and many other international organizations…which let experts take their own data and organize and analyze it themselves.” This is just another segment of Google Earth that can directly translate into an increase in sales revenue.
We find Google Earth to be a very interesting and valuable program. It enables you to view your home, your town, or any place that interests you around the world with few limitations. Up until now, many areas of the world were seen as “green areas,” where no satellite images were available. The improvement of this already impressive program would provide only a greater benefit to all of its users. For example, it will allow the world an insight into the world’s most mysterious areas (ex. area hit by tornado storms), where resource limitations inhibit humans from traveling to such place. This could lead to breakthrough discoveries and research in the science fields, which could benefit the society in many ways. Or, it could just enlighten a fifteen-year-old, who will have access to how an Egyptian town looks like within a click of a mouse.
To be able to surf the world and see places you have been is truly incredible. Currently, people frequently use Google Earth to see their homes and towns. It provides a sort of comfort when away from home to be able to get a close and in-depth view of places familiar to you, and is a great way to show people places you have been or where you are from. In other aspects it has always been a great way to view places you may be going, but is limited in how far you can take it. You literally have the world at your fingertips and just a mouse-click away. This also translates into a greater access of information for more people, which has generally been linked with direct and indirect economic growth.
The new opportunities that would be created by these improvements, such as to help plan trips, aid in assignments, and get a better perspective of the world, is something that cannot be imitated. These improvements would create a completely new market and use for Google Earth users by aiding them in new ways, while improving the service for past users. To be able to plan trips, see images of hotels, and get high-resolution images of places people are going would provide a new benefit to all. Since Google Earth is free and attracts millions of people, the potential for advertisements is clearly great, and it seems to be win-win for all parties involved.
On the other note, “freedom of information” always clashes with issues of privacy and security. The main issue arises with countries that are not willing to provide images or remain closed. For example, would Pentagon want North Korea to know where all its H-bombs are stored? After all, Google Earth is available to anyone! Another example…would you like you and your room to be viewable to the whole world? That’s what this new technology, unregulated, can essentially do. What are the constitutional and international laws that help protect people from violation of privacy? These are the questions that the Supreme Court, the FBI, and numerous international organizations should be asking, with the rise of this new technology.
Technology, if fallen into the hands of wrong people, could have disastrous effect on the welfare of the society. Indeed, many heroic stories that we grew up reading dealt with “evil enemy” gaining access to power through the use of new technology, trying to destroy the world. Similarly, unregulated access to Google Earth could provide information to terrorist organizations and subversive groups that could have serious ramifications to the society. However, even given those risks, we should not forget that Google Earth provides a valuable resource which, with its improvements, will be a great asset to society.
"A map can show you what you're looking for and put it in context. That very sense of place is everything Google Earth is about.”- Michael Jones, Chief Technology Officer of Google Earth
Posted by wienma at October 2, 2006 01:40 PM