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Search engines like Google are a critical element of the Web today. Without them, only serendipity would allow us to find the information we need amongst the trillions of bytes of of text, maps, images, 3D models, music, video, etc., available on the Web.

But serendipity is all that we have today to find data by geographic location. We navigate sites like Yahoo Maps, MapQuest, or TerraServer in the hopes of finding the information we want about a given place or area---the closest pizza parlor, traffic reports on a local highway, where a hurricane is currently located, a travel guide on Borneo, the history and images of the Duomo in Florence, and so on. But there is no server available today that will let us search for everything on the Web about a given place or area.

The GeoWeb is a vision for making all geographically referenced, or georeferenced, data available over the Web. It is the open, hierarchical, and distributed infrastructure, that we use to rapidly index georeferenced data.

Clearly, the sheer volume of georeferenced data about our world, including satellite and aerial imagery, 3D models of terrain and buildings, and maps, is so large that no single organization can possibly produce, store, or even index all of the data. What is needed, therefore, is an infrastructure, that can be used to georeference any type of data from around the world without having to modify any of the data itself.

There could be a number of ways to browse the GeoWeb. One such way is to use a 3D representation of the Earth that a user navigates in real time as a means of finding and viewing relevant information. Although this is certainly not the only way in which georeferenced data can be found and viewed, it is a powerful metaphor nonetheless. As part of SRI's DARPA-sponsored Digital Earth Project we are building the standards, tools, browsers, and infrastructure necessary for a version of the Digital Earth.

 

 

Copyright ©2001 SRI International. All rights reserved.

For more information, please contact: digital-earth@ai.sri.com.
Last updated: Wednesday, 24-Oct-2001 00:23:06 PDT.