Google Earth and Google Maps will now be leveraged to provide assistance for first responders to international disasters such as earthquakes, fires, floods and hurricanes. On Tuesday, the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium selected NJVC to provide a platform as a service (PaaS) application that draws upon Google’s geospatial data to enable users to view, share and publish maps and other terrestrial/street views when responding to international disasters. NJVC will use the Cloudcuity AppDeployer application to integrate data from the Google Maps Engine and Google Earth Server to allow respondents to use Google’s familiar search and mapping technologies when planning and executing responses to complex humanitarian disasters (CHD). Known as GeoCloud, the integrated technology solution provides a “virtual organization of response teams” that allows respondents both within, and across teams to share relevant disaster-related geospatial data as required. Kevin L. Jackson, vice president and general manager, NJVC cloud services, remarked on the value of GeoCloud and its partnership with Google as follows:
Through the cohesive PaaS solution to be delivered by NJVC, first responders will have access to the cloud services that they need—whenever and wherever they need them—and all disaster response activities will be managed from one secure interface. GeoCloud is the glue to bond disparate apps into one powerful virtual community for first responders. NJVC is thrilled that Google’s technologies will provide the geospatial data backbone for the platform for cycle two of this historic community cloud demonstration.
The concept of data sharing across a global consortium of partners in the event of an international disaster was proposed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which wanted to respond to the problem whereby disaster respondents leveraged different and conflicting maps and visual representations of the terrain of interest. As a result, the NGA sought to understand the capacity of the private sector to deliver “open standards-based geospatial data to first responders via multiple, interoperable cloud infrastructures.”
The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium awarded $350,000 to NJVC for the first phase of the project to build the basic infrastructure for creating a unified platform for cloud-based data sharing. In the second and current phase of the project, which began in early June, NJVC will demonstrate the functionality of its GeoCloud PaaS solution in the context of data regarding the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Over and beyond the specific use case of humanitarian disasters, the larger vision for NGA concerns the project of delivering a “global geospatial community cloud” within a form that accommodates interoperability across different cloud platforms to ensure standardization and consistency of data so that teams are literally “fighting off the same map,” according to a 2010 NCOIC GEOINT plenary briefing presentation.