Aug. 4, 2008
From: Rick Bush, DNRC
Re: Google Earth
The review of Google Earth for use by State of Montana employees determined that state
agencies should not use either the Free or Plus versions of Google Earth on their state computers.
Purchase and use of Google Earth Professional is allowed when users need the functionality of
Google Earth to do their jobs.
Here is a summary of the issues reviewed by the Google Earth team of: Robin Trenbeath, Evan
Hammer and Rick Bush. Various ITSD and agency staff were also consulted on this issue.
Network – Does not appear to be an issue
o The key concern is that licensing might be subject to change without notice.
o The “Plus” version is licensed only for home, non-commercial use.
o The Free version does not allow installs without the automatic updater.
o The State CANNOT allow automatic updates of software
Mandatory with “Free” version
Selective on “Pro” version
A program change from Google removing the automatic updater may
result in reconsidering this recommendation on use of the Free program.
Likewise, a program change requiring automatic updates of the Pro
version could also result in reconsidering this issue.
o $400/year standard licensing cost for the Pro version. Cost drops to $350 or $300
for volume purchases of Pro.
o Agencies should follow normal procurement procedures to purchase the Pro
Agencies who have identified a need for Google Earth in their operations should
purchases the Pro version of Google Earth for employees. Cost would be $300-$350 per
user with government pricing and volume discounts. This is a yearly license and will
require annual renewal.
When agencies have purchased enough copies of Google Earth Pro the state GIO will
evaluate whether an Enterprise license might be more cost effective.
It is highly recommended that agencies remove all copies of the Free or Plus versions of
Google Earth from state computers. Exposure from problems with the automatic update
feature is a major concern.
One free alternative agencies should also consider is ArcGIS Explorer from ESRI. The
product is an easy way to share maps with other users.