Today Google launched something called Google Earth Engine at the International Climate Change Conference in Cancun. Google describes it as a new technology platform that puts an "unprecedented amount of satellite imagery" and data online for the first time.
"It enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth’s environment," says Rebecca Moore, Engineering Manager of Google Earth Engine. "The platform will enable scientists to use our extensive computing infrastructure—the Google “cloud”—to analyze this imagery. Last year, we demonstrated an early prototype. Since then, we have developed the platform, and are excited now to offer scientists around the world access to Earth Engine to implement their applications."
"Why is this important? The images of our planet from space contain a wealth of information, ready to be extracted and applied to many societal challenges," adds Moore. "Scientific analysis can transform these images from a mere set of pixels into useful information—such as the locations and extent of global forests, detecting how our forests are changing over time, directing resources for disaster response or water resource mapping."
Google says using Google Earth Engine, scientists will be able to build applications that mine the extensive amount of data it provides, with archives of over 25 years from most of the developing world, reduced analysis time, tools that pre-process images to remove clouds and haze, and collaboration and standardization using a common platform for global data analysis.
The company also announced that it is donating 10 million CPU-hours a year over the next two years on the Google Earth Engine platform to "strengthen the capacity of developing world nations to track the state of their forests."
On a semi-related note, Google announced the ability to measure in 3D to the Advanced Measurement Tool Suite in Google Earth Pro 6, after customers ranked Area Measurement as one of the most valuable Google Earth Pro tools.