FD-02: Planetary-scale geospatial analysis with Google Earth Engine

Dave Thau, Noel Gorelick and Max Heinritz

Sunday, July 26
08:30 - 17:30


Processing large amounts of remotely sensed data can be a tedious task. Downloading, mosaicing, and preprocessing the data can consume hours,days, or even weeks before you actually get to do the analyses you really care about. Google Earth Engine is a geospatial analysis platform designed to promote rapid algorithm development by removing much of this up-front work. We have been downloading petabytes of georeferenced datasets that include images from Earth observing satellite and airborne sensors (examples: USGS Landsat, NASA MODIS, USDA NAIP), weather and climate datasets, and digital elevation models; putting it all on spinning disk for instant access to anyone with a web browser. We provide a rich library of operations that permit you to perform complex analyses on the data using Google's computers. This system has been used to generate global visualizations, like the 15 meter pixel image of the Earth underlying Google Maps and Google Earth. It has also been used to generate peer-reviewed scientific results on topics like global forest change, water usage, and urban extent mapping.


Dr. Dave Thau is a senior developer advocate for Google Earth Engine, Google's geospatial data processing platform. He joined Google in 2010, bringing with him 20 years of industry experience developing Internet-based applications. Over the past ten years, Dave has worked with image databases and geospatial systems, focusing on the fields of ecology and biodiversity. He currently works with scientists and NGOs developing software and algorithms that run on Google's highly parallelized cloud computing image processing framework. Dave holds degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a doctorate in computer science from the University of California, Davis.

Noel Gorelick is a software engineer and one of the founders of Google Earth Engine. He joined Google in 2007, after 20 years working on a variety of NASA planetary missions, including 5 missions to Mars and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He holds engineering degrees from the University of Oklahoma and Arizona State University.

Max Heinritzis a software engineer on the Earth Engine Playground front end. He's worked on charts, the code suggestion tool, and the client libraries.