“Leica Titan is positioned as a social network for sharing geospatial data, whether it’s imagery, terrain, features [or] 3-D models,” said Mladen Stojic, director of enterprise products at Leica. “We assume that individuals and organizations around the world have geospatial data that they want to share. Leica Titan is similar to some of the other media-sharing applications that we have for sharing music, pictures and other media files.”
Aha, so it’s a peer-to-peer geospatial filesharing application similar to Napster of old or Gnutella? It’s a bit more than that. Yes, you can share individual files with others that are online, but the coolest thing about Leica Titan is that it lets you load up various geospatial files to your own globe, called your “MyWorld”, and then share that globe with others that are logged into the network. You’re not quite sharing the live state of your virtual globe, as you have to publish a version, but it is getting there.
But why use P2P for sharing states and geospatial files? In the case of most music and movie files, people use P2P because these files are being shared illegally, and owners of central file servers would get sued by copyright owners. In other cases, P2P makes it more difficult for authoritarian governments to control the free flow of information. Is that Leica’s justification for it’s geo-P2P solution? No:
“We’re bypassing the need for a heavyweight server application and facilitating users within the social network to immediately share data for emergency response, where they really need that data turned around rapidly as opposed to having to wait for some IT manager to upload it onto a server, publish it and then tell everyone it’s available,” said Stojic.
Couldn’t that problem be solved more robustly by putting an automated centralized file server online? Google Earth Community and 3D Warehouse serve as models, minus the permissioning. P2P scales horribly. In case of a large-scale disaster involving many respondents, is P2P really the best solution, instead of, say, relaying to a server and then multicasting? And is requiring a Windows machine such a good idea in a disaster scenario, instead of, say, focusing on a cross-platform or web-browser accessible solution?
Regardless of the merits of P2P publishing for this kind of content, I think the concept behind sharing the state of your virtual globe certainly carries a big appeal and can be very useful, not just in disaster response scenarios but when making presentations remotely, whether for business or to grandparents. Indeed, Unype 0.2 for Windows lets you share individual KML and 3D Warehouse files in Google Earth.
Down the line, however, what I would really like is a robust solution where I can reveal the contents of “My Places” in Google Earth, perhaps by having it be linked to my Google account and mirrored on Google servers (just like my Gmail, where space does not appear to be a problem), and also update live the current object of my attention, as GE Sharing does.