Today marked an interesting development in the geocommunity with two new cloud-based repositories for geospatial data. Microsoft added a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Virtual Earth, and Google added the Google Maps Data API along with storage.
The Microsoft CDN offers geodistributed data centers throughout North America, Europe and Asia to host content closer to customers and users. CDN promises dramatic performance improvements. These improvements are directed toward developers who are looking to gain better performance for the tools that they build upon the Virtual Earth platform.
The Google Maps Data API allows users to view, store and update map data that Google hosts for them, using a data model for features (placemarks, lines and shapes) and maps (collections of features). The focus here is predominantly on individual consumers that want to plan and journal their vacation trips with maps and geocoded photos, for community sites, and for mobile applications for finding points of common interest. Google has extended some of their services with this platform and created some new ones. My Maps Editor gives Android mobile phone users an option to integrate the phone and camara to document their mobile lives. ConnectorLocal gathers information about a users location to better inform them. My Tracks gives Android mobile phone users the ability to track via GPS, and view live statistics of their outdoor activities. Platial adds social mapping services of people and places.
With these two developments, the future of cloud-based geospatial data storage takes a dramatic leap forward. The consumer-oriented and mobile focus of Google’s offering will likely mean an accelerated development of personal geo applications that will likely spawn a number of interesting applications.