The release of Google Earth 5 has further whetted the Googlebot's voracious appetite for new data.
Specifically, Google wants more views of the planet for the new historical imagery feature in Google Earth 5, which lets people see earlier views of a particular area, not just the present. The company established an Imagery Partner Program through which organizations can supply their data.
Don't expect to be paid for helping Google out, though. "We are happy to add your map content to Google's services at no cost to you, but we generally do not pay for content," the company said on its image partnership frequently-asked-questions page.
In fairness, Google offers some situations where sharing the data would be in the interest of a municipality, for example, that wants to be on the map but is tired of waiting for GeoEye-1's satellite camera to whiz overhead. There probably also are organizations with public-domain imagery that would like to see it made broadly accessible but that aren't trying to build some business out of it.
Plus, Google has a point that processing lots of geographic data is laborious. Who wants to orthorectify and georeference a bunch of data sets? Quoting some of Google's reasons for why people might want to share:
Make a positive impact on your community and the world
Simplify navigation and geographic analysis
Raise awareness of land use and environmental issues
Facilitate emergency management
Boost tourism and foster economic development
Enable visitors and tourism agencies to plan and present travel itineraries
Support business site location planning
Google announced the new partnership program on its Lat Long blog Thursday.
Mapping is getting more important in the digital world as new possibilities open up for navigation and finding nearby friends. Google has aggressively pursued this area with online maps and satellite views, and the company has begun testing advertisements in Google Maps and Google Earth.
Yahoo doesn't share quite the degree of obsession as Google, but it's working hard on geography too. On Wednesday, Yahoo announced that it has 100 million geotagged photos on Flickr, its image-sharing site. Geotagged photos have map coordinates built in, letting people find photos of a particular region or explore their own archive geographically.
Accepting others' data could help Google accelerate its geographic agenda, though. And who knows, maybe they can get somebody in Clarkesville, Md., to help fix weird purple arcs that show up in Street View.