The U.S. Secretary of Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, spoke today at ESRI’s Senior Executive Seminar. Kempthorne expressed an understanding and appreciation of the role of geospatial technology that was extremely encouraging, including details about the role that geospatial technology played in his decision to protect the polar bear.
The secretary referred to the triumph of the geospatial era where geospatial technology is used to manage climate change, biodiversity, population pressures, natural disasters and global challenges. He also spoke to a broader vision of the technology to combine the knowledge of biological, geological and hydrological science in a geospatial framework.
The major announcement from his address was the commitment to make Landsat archives available online by the end of this year, with commitment from Google to host this data on Google Earth. The bulk of the data will be on EROS data center servers, but Google Earth will also have the data along with tools that enable rudimentary analysis. This universal access to view and analyze change over more than 30 years time should greatly influence the impact of geospatial technology on policy decisions.