This week I am manning an exhibit at the Microsoft Homeland Security and Public Safety Technology Symposium hosted by Microsoft and the IAFC, in cooperation with the National Sheriff's Association and with the support of the broader law enforcement community. Attendees invited to the symposium come from the spectrum of Homeland Security agencies as well as fire and police departments.* Talks focus on technology for mission critical line of business applications throughout government and tackle topics that include Disaster Management, Unified Communication, Information Sharing, Collaboration, and Interoperability, to name a few.*

The Virtual Earth team is only a participant at the symposium but you might think that we had organized this event, given the extent of Virtual Earth exposure here. Many of the talks have a Virtual Earth component, not surprising I would say, when you look at the list of topics again. As a mapping solution platform, Virtual Earth allows interoperability between multiple Public Sector agencies to collaborate around crisis situations, sharing information through map-based intelligence support portals. Several of the vendors in the Partner Pavilion here at the symposium are showcasing just such Virtual Earth solutions to augment capabilities of agencies to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergency scenarios. These include Convergence with their E-sponder, E-sponder Express and E-sponder Alert solutions, IDV Solutions demonstrating their Avian Flu and other solutions built on their Visual Fusion Suite tools, and Infusion Development who is receiving a lot of attention lately and here at the symposium for their JEPRS (Joint Emergency Planning & Response System) that is currently being used by San Diego County to aid in wildfire recovery efforts. These organizations are among the Microsoft partners that are integrating Virtual Earth into their solutions to bring the power of visualization to their public safety solutions, augmenting situational awareness for organizations that respond to emergency situations.

Yesterday's tragic shooting rampage in the department store in Omaha, Nebraska coinciding with this symposium is not lost on me. Just the type of scenario that these Virtual Earth applications are designed to assist public safety officials to respond to more rapidly and effectively by providing better visibility and clarity around the incident. There always seems to be a question I am asked more than any other at the various conferences and events that I work and that question here at the symposium, not surprisingly (to me) given yesterday's event, is "can I layer a floor on the building imagery in Virtual Earth?"

The Virtual Earth platform includes Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to allow organizations to build their own applications that integrate Virtual Earth imagery, features and functionality. One of these APIs is called MapCruncher, and allows you to register raster imagery directly onto Virtual Earth imagery, including PDFs, JPEGs. One possible use is to "crunch" floor plans onto buildings as in the example below.


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