Have you ever looked at Google Earth and thought, “Man, I wish I could have a version of this for my business. Or even for personal use!” If your answer is “Yes”, you’re in luck since the software that’s used to host Google Earth will become open-sourced in less than two months.
Officially called Google Earth Enterprise (or simply GEE), this software was supposed to have been discontinued on March 2017. Google announced this decision on March 2015 and gave users two years to migrate to other technologies. However, only a few users transitioned to other platforms. Many clients admitted that they were still using Google Earth Enterprise for mission-critical projects, so the Mountain View-based company decided to make GEE available as an open-source program instead of closing it down.
As Timothy Whitehead of Gearthblog.com points out, this shows that Google does “care about their customers” even when they have already depreciated Google Earth Enterprise for two years. Granted, the company is actively promoting Google Earth Engine and Google Cloud Platform and encouraging users to transition to these technologies. However, using these platforms are not a requirement to be able to access the open-source GEE.
So what does this mean for you? Well, for one thing, it allows you to have access to the features and functionality of Google Earth Enterprise, which wasn’t possible before since the platform was only available to governments and corporations with deep pockets. You’ll also have access to viewers and other programs that would be created by third-party developers, which means you’ll get tools that would make your work a lot easier. Of course, if you’re a developer, you’ll have the chance to work on GEE and see what you can do with its API.