Editor’s Note: Brant Mitchell is Associate Deputy Director of the State of Louisiana Department of Homeland Security. The state of Louisiana Department of Homeland Security is a Google Earth Enterprise customer that leverages Google Earth Enterprise for emergency preparedness and now becomes the first Google Earth Enterprise customer to create a Google Earth Enterprise globe specifically for the public.

For the last three years the State of Louisiana has provided our first responder community a secured access to Federal, State and local geospatial data and high resolution imagery of Louisiana through a Google Earth Enterprise client. In preparation of hurricane season, Louisiana is pleased to announce that we have launched the first public version of a Google Earth Enterprise platform.

Louisiana Earth was released as part of the state's "Get a Game Plan" campaign, to assist citizens in creating evacuation plans by providing access to all of the states evacuation routes, sheltering points historical hazard data and other information that is essential during an evacuation such as locations of and available occupancy of hotels, gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, veterinary clinics and banks.

Louisiana Earth will also serve as a mechanism to relay critical data during disasters to help inform the public on the status of response and recovery efforts. Using the Deepwater Horizon Rig incident as an example, there is existing data that Louisiana is making available which includes the latest oil sightings from aerial observations, oyster bed closures, as well as critical environmental data such as bird nesting areas.

During hurricanes and other natural disasters, Louisiana will be able to provide information such as the location of points of distribution (PODs), food stamp offices, unemployment claims offices, disaster recovery centers as well as the status of parishes' power outages as an example.

Finally, while the primary purpose is to utilize Louisiana Earth as a mechanism to provide critical data during emergencies, it will also be utilized to promote Louisiana. We will constantly be adding data that the public can use to take advantage of the many activities and events, such as festivals, that are available in Louisiana.

Louisiana Earth already has information on all of the state parks which consists of lodging accommodations, hiking trails, and camping sites. Historical data and cultural events will also be included and will continue to be updated.

To access Louisiana Earth, go to laearth.la.gov.

Posted by Natasha Wyatt, Google Earth and Maps team