Just about everyone on the planet knows about Google. But Google knows a lot about the planet and companies have gotten smart about using that to give their businesses a lift.
Chris Watson formed a company that allows golfers to fly over their favorite golf courses if they plan to visit the course soon or even if they just get enjoy looking at a laid-out course in detail.
“Golfers are fanatics,” said Watson, CEO of Eyespygolf.com, which uses Google Earth Flyover (a free download) to fly over courses as if they were in a helicopter. “In the U.S., there are an estimated 26 million to 37 million golfers and we want to provide them with as much information for as many courses as are out there.”
Saber Roofing Inc. in Redwood City, Calif., punches addresses into the Earth software to pull up aerial views of the buildings and measure roofs it’ll be working one. After determining what a job would cost, the estimate is e-mailed to the client. The company avoids a costly round trip to see the roof in person and saves on the cost of buying aerial photos, which can be cost prohibitive.
Landscapers, pool maintenance people, real-estate agents and insurance companies are also using such services.
Some of the mapping services are now adding photographs of buildings and streets taken from the street level, potentially increasing their usefulness. While the aerial images can be as much as a few years old, things such as roofs and the areas of lawns generally don't change much over that period of time.
Even states are using the service. Pennsylvania allows web users to do virtual interactive tours of historic events and places. And the Weather Channel uses Google earth to focus on disaster areas.
There is also Google Pro, which costs $400 per year and provides views and data representations as a KML, Google Earth‘s original file format, and additional measurement tools (square feet, mile, acreage, radius). Users can also export high-resolution images up to 11" x 17" and use them in documents, presentations, web or printed materials.
As small business look to get more efficient—using both their time and money wisely—this kind of technology can play an even larger role.