Many approaches have been proposed to create geographic information and to share it with others. One novel approach, taken by Google, is to provide users with their own tools and let them do it themselves. Thus far this has been directed not so much at the data collection professionals, but rather at the end user, the “man in the street” so to speak. This has been used by individuals to share their vacations, favourite hiking trails, interesting walks in the downtown and most loved restaurants. People quite willing devoted their own time and resources to capturing and posting this information simply because they want to share their experiences with one another.
A new phase of this approach was introduced with Google’s acquisition of Sketchup and the wide deployment of these tools for capturing a 3D model of the world around you, complete with textured 3D buildings, walkways, signs, shrubs, and roadways. Many cities have “gotten” on the map with this approach and there are now literally millions of building models. Google is pushing this further this year with their second annual Model Your Campus student competition (see http://contest.sketchup.com/intl/en/ ).
In the previous year this contest was restricted to US entrants only, but is now open to registered students throughout the world.I had a look at some of the 2007 entries and they are pretty cool. It is not hard to see the future of “earth browsing”!
Students interested in the Model Your Campus competition may also be interested in the GeoWeb 2008 Student Competition (see http://geowebconference.org/students-academia/contest-information ).