RealTime IT News

Google Earth Does Good For Real One

Google Earth, an application for viewing 3-D maps and satellite images of streetscapes and landscapes, has always been good for a quick Superman-esque zip around the globe. Now its creators are trying to make it good for the world it virtually represents.

Google  today announced Google Earth Outreach, a program to help the world's nonprofit organizations get a foothold in the virtual world so they can better communicate to Google Earth's 200 million users how to help the real one. Pilot Outreach partners include the Jane Goodall Institute, the United Nations Foundation and Earthwatch.

The program, announced at a media event in New York today, includes online guides, video tutorials, and case studies about using Google Earth specifically targeted to the needs of nonprofit organizations. Google will also open online forums to connect nonprofit participants with experienced programmers who can assist in developing Keyhole Markup Language (KML) layers for Google Earth.

Organizations can also now apply to get a free copy of Google Earth Pro and additional technical support from Google. Google said organizations that create particularly compelling content for Google Earth will be highlighted in the Google Earth Outreach Showcase, an online gallery of the most compelling new layers, and a subset of those will be featured in the Global Awareness folder in Google Earth on a rotating basis.

"Our goal with Google Earth Outreach is to help public service organizations worldwide leverage our mapping technology to further their goals by providing tailored technical guidance and grants," said John Hanke, director of Google Earth & Maps, in a statement.

Google also introduced three new Global Awareness layers for Google Earth, the Global Heritage Fund Global Awareness layer, the Earthwatch Global Awareness layer and he TransFair USA layer.

There is a method to Google's philanthropy; the search giant's current plan for Google Earth is to open it up to as much useful geo-located information and content as possible.

The hope is that users will come to rely on it as a searchable source for such information. If they do, Google knows what to do from there, having already made plenty of money monetizing search with targeted advertising.