A few months ago, the GIS world went gaga over Google's announcement that they were moving into the professional realm of GIS with Google Earth Builder. The thought of Google competing directly with the big dog - ESRI was exciting. I could almost hear the prices falling.
Google Earth Builder is attempting to merge cloud computing and GIS functionality. A mix appealing to government and non-profit agencies - a market ESRI has had a strangle hold on. They wowed us with this teaser video.
With a history of making GIS so simple and accessible, it seemed that
Google was making a statement - thank you for holding the reigns, but we
got it from here!
That might have been a bit premature.
I don't talk much about ESRI products on this blog BECAUSE they are not as simple and accessible as Google products. That appears to be changing thanks to ArcGIS Online.
"Maps and Apps for Everyone" - that's the first thing on their website.
ESRI has made map making, hosting and sharing free. Up to 2GB of free storage are granted simply by registering an ESRI global account, which takes about a minute. Once you have that account you can leverage thousands of available layers, upload OR create your own from scratch. Once you've created maps you can add them to a gallery and share them all around the world.
ESRI has taken things one step farther by providing website templates that can be used to showcase your map galleries right in your own web domain.
And they didn't stop there.
They have added single click web app publishing. That means you can create webpages and maps for use on any mobile device instantly. This is more than just something that will open on an iPad, we're talking about templates built to work across multiple mobile technologies.
The point is, ESRI is attempting to bring GIS data to everyone.
It's free and it's easy!
So far, me like!