Digitizing the planet

Oct 30, 2012

Most of us have digitized our financial records and music and photo collections. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On this month’s edition of The Digital Future, Strategic News Service publisher Mark Anderson tells us about efforts to digitize the Earth. 

NASA's open-source World Wind project is one example of a digital Earth. It creates a virtual planet using satellite imagery, aerial photography, topographic maps and other data.

Digital Earths are more than just fancy virtual globes, though. They can be used as a gateway to all of the information available about every spot on our planet. 

If you're shopping for a new home, imagine clicking on the virtual Earth, zooming in on a house and bringing up all the data related to it. You'll have access to information about property taxes, schools, traffic, weather, crime rates, economic statistics for neighborhood, etc.

The more data available to the digital Earth, the more accurate it'll be. Digital earths will enable citizens to make informed decisions about climate change, pollution, endangered species, and other complex issues. 

But, we always have to watch for the dark side of technology. Mark says privacy needs to be safeguarded. The tools we use to monitor the planet can easily be used to monitor each other.