Virtual Globes: the Next GIS?
Improvement in the processing power and the graphic memory of desktop computers, coupled with increased Internet accessibility and connectivity has supported the prolific adoption of digital globe technologies by broad sectors of society. The recent release of freely downloadable digital globes, such asGoogle Earth andNASA World Wind, has sparked an enormous public interest and increased people’s awareness of spatial sciences. The ease of use of digital globes and their capacity to display spatial information make them a powerful tool to communicate and make data accessible to a range of users including decision makers, researchers and the general public. As a result digital globes present an enormous potential for the communication of scientific information to a wider audience. The ubiquitous nature of digital globe technologies provides significant opportunity for the science community to communicate information and share the results of often complex models with people who traditionally could not operate or access spatial technologies such as GIS, remote sensing and visualisation products. This paper presents an overview of a range of different digital globes currently available and their underlying structures and features. Through a case study approach we illustrate the strength and weaknesses of five major digital globes (Google Earth, NASA World Wind, ESRI ArcGIS Explorer, Skyline Globe) andDapple Earth Explorer) and evaluate their potential applicability in the fields of agriculture science, natural resource management and spatial planning.
KeywordsAerial Imagery Virtual Globe Digital Globe Polygon Feature High Resolution Imagery
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