Google Earth and Google Fusion Tables in support of time-critical collaboration: Mapping the deepwater horizon oil spill with the AVIRIS airborne spectrometer
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Web interfaces have made remote sensing image resources more accessible and interactive. However, many web-based and Digital Earth opportunities for remote sensing have not yet been fully explored and could greatly facilitate scientific collaboration. In many cases, these resources can augment traditional proprietary software packages, which can have limited flexibility, spatiotemporal controls, and data synthesis abilities. In this paper, we discuss how web services and Google Earth were used for time-critical geovisualizations of the NASA Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) Deepwater Horizon oil spill imaging campaign. In particular, we describe how (1) AVIRIS Google Earth products were used to visualize the spatial and temporal characteristics of the campaign’s image acquisitions, critically needed for flight planning, (2) the Google Fusion Table cloud-based service was applied to create a highly-interactive image archive and mapping display, and (3) the Google Fusion Table API was utilized to create a flexible PHP-based interface for metadata creation and as the basis for an interactive data catalog. Although there are other possible software and programming approaches to these activities, we highlight freely-accessible and flexible solutions and bring attention to the newly introduced Google Fusion Tables as a collaborative scientific platform.