Much of the information on the Internet is abstract. But the web is quickly gaining a new layer that makes such information more real by merging it with location-based data. The result is the Geoweb, which will allow for the sharing and visualization of tangible, physical elements of the real world inside a 3-D virtual environment.
While virtual globe programs such as Google Earth and Microsoft’s Virtual Earth offer glimpses into how geo-browsers will work, the detail and depth of information promises to be immense. There are already many kinds of geomatics or geographic information systems in use in nearly all industries—the data just have to be translated into a Geoweb-friendly coding language called Geographic Markup Language. Indeed, almost any data can be coded for viewing in the Geoweb.
Of course, a lot of Geoweb files will stay private (as are many web files), but companies will be able to share and integrate geospatial information. Almost everyone will soon have more productive ways to track and share data—and ultimately, save money.