Heard of EarthSLOT? I hadn’t. It’s run by Dr. Matt Nolan at the University of Alaska Fairbanks with support from the National Science Foundation and it’s billed as a “3D GIS and visualization application designed to allow scientists, educators, and the public better understand our planet and the earth-science that goes on here.” It looks a lot like Google Earth. It’s even in Beta, just like Google Earth.
EarthSLOT is actually built on Skyline Software‘s TerraExplorer and their TerraGate server. This means it won’t run on my Mac, not even in Virtual PC, but there are some seriously goodlooking screenshots to look at. The most noticable difference from Google Earth I can see from these images is that 3D buildings can have quite complex shapes as well as pictures along the sides. There is also an interesting use of the application to display traditionally non-spatial data in a spatial way.
There is a lot of Arctic and Antarctic data, which makes EarthSLOT a promising way to explore those regions in detail. Overall, I suspect the main weakness of this public and free demonstration is scalability. Maybe it’s best that we keep this one amongst ourselves.