Norway’s Bergen in content deal with Google Earth

Norway’s city of Bergen doesn’t just possess beauty, it has brains too. That’s obvious from a deal it has just made with Google, as reported by the local paper, Bergens Tidende.

The deal: Send Google high-resolution images of Bergen for inclusion in Google Earth. For free, as long as Google Earth has a free version. They should be up soon, reports the paper.


Bergen now in Google Earth

The idea is Endre Leivestad’s, who is Bergen Commune’s GIS coordinator. The motive couldn’t be simpler, as explained by Ole Warberg, Bergen’s tourism director (translated):

Choosing a travel destination is a visual thing. Bergen is a beautiful town, and it is wonderful that we can now show this to the whole world.


Bergen soon in Google Earth

The images sport a resolution is 20cm per pixel, and are taken from the same database that feeds, so you can check our a preview for yourself. (Choose “Karttype: Flyfoto” for a preview). Here is some eye candy prepared earlier by the paper.

Two points:

  • There seem to be two options available to state GIS agencies. Either build your own 3D browser (as the French are doing) that shows just the data you own, or else give the data to all comers in what amounts to a Creative Commons licence for GIS, as Bergen is doing with Google Earth. (I certainly expect the deal not be exclusive, and open to NASA World Wind to replicate should it be so inclined.) In fact, there is no reason why opening up your data to all comers is incompatible with building your own 3D browser, if you like. (Unless you consider Google a Anglo-Saxon competitor to be kept at bay:-)
  • I hope Google has guarantees about the trustworthiness of the maps. By that I mean that all censorship of military bases should be clearly marked as such. As reported on Ogle Earth just a few days ago, Norway has admitted it too obfuscates censorship on maps, a habit it can’t shake from Cold War days. I’d rather have low resolution maps than false high resolution ones, myself.

    That said, it would be even smarter of Norway to get Google to show its maps “free”, after being able to censor them. I wonder if that is the case here.