Water Week

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GIS widgetry expands: Google “crowdsourcing” – enlists users to build and contribute images, 3-D models of buildings for a digital planet

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

Vincent Tao, GeoTango’s founder and now director of Virtual Earth for Microsoft, allows that Microsoft has spent at the “couple of hundreds of millions of dollars level” on Virtual Earth. Most of that has been spent on the acquisition of imagery, which now totals 14 petabytes on 900 servers. (One petabyte is 1m gigabytes.) The company is also adding detail in the form of textured three-dimensional models of cities devised from aerial photographs; ten cities are added each month, reported The Economist, (8/9/2007), p. 14.

850,000 users contribute: For its part, Google is relying on “crowdsourcing” – enlisting its users to build and contribute images, 3-D models of buildings and other such data to enrich its digital planet. So far, 850,000 users have contributed millions of annotations and more than 1m images, vetting one another’s contributions.

Geographically located news: Wikipedia, which uses a similar system, is itself available through Google Earth. Users can read Wikipedia articles placed on the globe using “geotags” – spatial co-ordinates encoded into each entry. Other sites including Flickr, the leading photo-sharing site, and Google’s YouTube, also support geotags.

The Economist, 8/9/2007, p. 14

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