Cool news from Microsoft: its Google Earth competitor, Virtual Earth, is now accepting user-generated aerial imagery. Unlike Google Earth, where your own data can only be superimposed on the "real" Google Earth data, and people will only see it if they use a special URL, Microsoft is offering to integrate user-submitted data in the core data set. For DIY Drones and our RC aerial photography cousins, that means a great way to share our imagery in a maps context that can be appreciated by everyone, not just those with special software and the right URL.
Here's an excerpt from the Virtual Earth blog:
What’s the process for getting my data in VE?
· First, evaluate whether your imagery enhances our currently available data by seeing what we have online at http://maps.live.com. If your imagery is newer and has higher resolution than what we have online, then we should talk. So,
· Send us an email at GoVE@microsoft.com and tell us what you have. If we’re not planning an update on that area in the next few months, there’s a good chance we’re interested. If so, we’ll send you a copy of our specification.
· Review the spec against your data and send us a short summary of the exceptions. Many times we can work around small exceptions to the spec, so send us an email and we’ll see what we can do. We may need a data sample . If the imagery meets the spec, we’ll send you a data release.
· Sign the data release and return it to us. The terms of our release are non-negotiable because we have thousands of data sets in VE and we must treat all of our data sources equally. The data release gives us the right to publish your data under the standard terms of our VE portal.
· Contact us for delivery logistics. We’ve found it easiest to put the data on an external hard drive and ship it. When we receive it, we’ll put it in the queue for processing and mosaicking, ingesting and incorporating into the next release.
How long does it take for my data to show up in VE?
It depends upon many factors, including the amount of pre-processing, custom tiling, timing of the next release, other data in the queue, etc. Typically, from the time we receive the data, it takes from 1-3 months for the data to be published online.
Can I provide partial updates to the imagery?
We prefer data updates in larger chunks, since each update requires edge-matching to the existing online imagery. However, if special circumstances arise where a partial update is merited, we’ll work with you to accomplish this.
How will you use my data?
Virtual Earth provides free, open access to imagery, maps, points of interest, business listings, etc. Most of our web site viewers use the site and it’s location awareness tools (search, driving directions, imagery , etc.) to get more information on their local environment. The public web site is free. Your data would become part of the Virtual Earth API which developers can leverage in creating their own web sites.
Will you give us credits for the use of our imagery?
As a rule of thumb, yes. VE seeks to provides credits and attribution for all of our data sources, and we’ll strive to do the same for your data. However, in some cases, there can be as many as 5-7 data sources on the screen at once, so we sometimes have to pare the credits down to the top sources on the page to avoid onscreen “credit clutter.”
If you're interested in sharing your imagery with the Virtual Earth platform, let me know or send mail to GoVE@microsoft.com.