I have always explored for things free on the Internet since they are easily available and in the case of geospatial data, they are constantly being updated so I do not worry about it going obsolete. I have already been using Google Maps to find my way around and even get distance estimates to make monthly claims. This leads me to ponder the idea of Google Maps (the simplified map version of Google Earth) as a base map for e.g. when presenting geospatial information, be it to top brass members of MPFN or full council members of a Local Authority.
Firstly, there is the free and paid versions of Google Earth. Google Earth is a free download for personal use, but Google Earth Pro costs US$400 for an annual subscription but is Google Earth Pro really worth this substantial increase in price? A review of both at http://www.brighthub.com/internet/google/reviews/67002.aspx#ixzz1T1Wx5zxf states that “Unless you’re an architect, an engineer, or a real estate agent, there’s very little advantage in purchasing Google Earth Pro.” Well, for starters, that’s good advice. At first, I activated Google Earth then zoomed down to Bangsar before the image got distorted. Then using Quantum GIS, I activated Google Hybrid and zoomed to Bangsar and what I could view in Google Earth, I could too with Google Maps though limited to about a scale of 1:500 as shown above. But the question that hit my mind was “Is that adequate to meet one’s need in town planning?” If so, why not use it as a base map. Drag the cursor across states and whatever errors there may be, Google hides it seamlessly well. Even currently, there are still problems in integrating state cassini maps but I do not hear about anyone complaining when Google is used and that is what I like about Google’s Map: no complaints at all, in fact, use it as a base map and people get impressed! Of course for the time being state cassini maps should only be viewed independently not so much because of a question of integrity but because just viewing a state cassini map is already very demanding on the computer and I’m dead sure the best desktop computer in the current market cannot activate all the state cassini maps simultaneoulsy in less than 8 seconds. So let’s talk of integrating cassini maps nationwide only when the hardware can handle the snap of a finger shall we?
What I am proposing in fact has already been implemented by another federal public agency years ago. This is none other than Jabatan Alam Sekitar (JAS) Headquarters at Putrajaya. I would say they have admirable foresight. It merely needs our maps should be standardize and be projected along Google Mercator rather than cassini projections allowing us to import and overlay them over Google Maps like a jig into a jig-saw puzzle. And what is so wrong about that? This is another of my spontaneous wild idea. I know I’m bound to meet a lot of criticism and it would be great to get feedback but I believe we will not need to wait 10 years down this line to see Google Earth and its kid brother: Google Maps be the unofficial de facto reference map on the Internet or a base map for JPBD.