Google launches Earth Builder for the cloud

The new software is geared toward businesses and government agencies that are looking for easier and less resource-intensive ways to manage mapping functions.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

Google's mapping-related announcements this week weren't limited to its expansion of MapMaker to the U.S.: On Wednesday, Google announced a new enterprise product called Google Earth Builder, which it says will help businesses process and handle geographic data so that they don't have to do it on their own servers.

"It lets you upload, process, and store your geospatial data in our cloud," a post on the Google Enterprise Blog explained. "Your employees can use familiar tools--Google Maps and Google Earth--to easily and securely share and publish mapping data. No technical expertise or GIS training is required."

As with the MapMaker announcement, the unveiling of Google Earth Builder was held at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco, where Google exec Marissa Mayer also announced that Google Earth's software has been downloaded more than 700 million times.

Clients of Google Earth Builder, which will likely be large government agencies and corporations that deal with heavy amounts of mapping (say, energy companies), will have access to maps from any Internet-enabled device and will be able to securely store and back up their data.

"Whether you have terabytes of imagery or just a few basemap layers, now you can create multiple map layers from your data, such as shapefiles of demographic data, spreadsheets of worldwide customer locations, and files of your recently acquired imagery for a new development," the blog post explained. "You can also integrate the map layers with our own imagery basemap, road data, Google Street View, Terrain View, or Directions in order to find your next best store location."

The aim is to make esoteric mapping software more accessible, Google says: "In the enterprise a lot of geospatial data remains trapped on costly servers and inaccessible to those who need it. We'd like to help free that data and bring the same benefits that consumers have enjoyed for years to businesses and government agencies."

A pricing schedule wasn't provided for Earth Builder, which is slated to launch in July, but interested parties are encouraged to contact Google's enterprise sales department.