Google Earth Outreach Non-Profit Initiative Launches

At the Googleplex East this afternoon, Google’s introducing Google Earth Outreach, “a new program designed to help nonprofit organizations around the world leverage the power of Google Earth to illustrate and advocate for the important work that they do.” The room is packed with mostly representatives of non-profit organizations

The program allows non-profits to layer content and applets over Google Earth to tell stories about their work. Non-profit organizations are invited to apply for Google Earth Pro grants (an annual subscription normally costs $400) to receive technical support from Google to kick-start their online programs using Google Earth.

Pilot partners here at the ‘plex include Dr. Jane Goodall, Kathy Bushkin Calvin of the United Nations Foundation and Earthwatch President and CEO Edward Wilson.

John Hanke, director Google Earth and Maps, says the program grew out of the company’s 20 percent time employee program (in which staffers dedicate that percentage of their work time to independent projects). The project is in KML, “the HTML of the earth.” The company has posted online tutorials to help novice users get started, and to teach them best practices in creating earth-related content.

Jane Goodall, via a video link, is looking mighty embarrassed at the lengthy introduction ennumerating her achievements, awards and honors. “When I began my work we only had paper and pencils.” She’s telling us how recently, villagers in Tanzania didn’t understand flat maps researchers showed them, but quickly began to cooperate with her organization’s water conservation efforts once they were shown electronic 3D maps of their area from which they recognized the local terrain. And she just treated us to a heartfelt greeting in chimpanzee – what a treat!

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