The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected Microsoft Virtual Earth as its mapping technology of choice. According to a press release issued by Microsoft, the licensing deal will allow the EPA access to the vast aerial, satellite and oblique imagery available from Microsoft. The EPA will use Microsoft’s Virtual Earth to map out such environmental disasters as locations of oil spills, Superfund clean up sites, pollution concentrations, and other hazards.
The licensing agreement with the EPA is considered a coup for Microsoft which is in fierce competition with Google over mapping technology. EPA officials have been cited as saying the availability of imagery taken at a 45 degree angle was the deciding factor. Oblique imagery is not available through Google, a fact stressed by Microsoft in their press release, “Virtual Earth is the only existing platform that offers developers and end users the ability to work with and view satellite, aerial, oblique and 3-D imagery of the Earth.”