Does anyone else here use it or have any experience with it? I'm talking all of it or any of it. Earth, Apps, Wave?
Our department was given a license for Google Apps to manage our scheduling and email by the Google Apps team in Washington DC as part of a program of theirs to get more small government entities using it. Apparently it's a major part of the Cities of Los Angeles, Washington DC, Canton Georgia, and others. I have personally found the Calendar to be endlessly useful to our small service and it's impossible and rhythm-less schedule. I saw a special on Google on TV a few months back and DCFD has a custom version of Google Earth that they run everything through. They referenced preplans, dead hydrants, historical call volume, etc. I've been using it to get our department started in GIS and found it's got enough functionality, I would consider replacing the map on our bay wall with a large touchscreen display displaying Google Earth 24/7. I've used it to map road closures, dry hydrant locations, I'm trying to learn more. I know I'm not using this to its fullest potential; I'm sure I can GPS track resources and view in real-time location for priority dispatching, etc.
Does anyone else have any experience with Apps, Wave, or Earth? I'd love to hear from anyone at all who uses any of these products but if the Deputy Chief from DCFD that did the MSNBC interview could reply, I'd be set!
Bump. Anyone playing with this now?
I have some experience using Google apps, as well as a bit of GIS background using Google Earth/Maps.
As far as implementation goes, once Apps is set up and you have your domain MX file set to use it as your default email, your about half way there. The next step is setting up groups that have different rights levels. IE: admins, officers, users, etc.
Then you will want to create a few different calenders to keep everything separated out and make it usable. I would suggest starting off with a shift calender with your vacation scheduling, a separate training calendar, and any other specialized ones that you need.
Finally, upload your users using the bulk upload tools (basically put everyone in a flat spreadsheet). There are tutorials online.
Apps is not perfect by any means, but for a small department with limited or no IT funds, it can be a godsend. Also be sure and look at Google's online Office suite, it works pretty well, and can also be used in an offline mode.
Don't forget about the boots-on-the-ground either, cloud based computing is a different animal that what they are probably used to. Get them some good training on how to use the new Google system, and it will go a long way in making your project a success.
As far as mapping goes, I still don't think that Google Earth or Maps is up to the task of emergency mapping. I would try a company like Alsea Geospatial or another more local (to you) GIS software company if I were looking for a custom mapping solution.
Let me know if I can help out with anything, or I can clarify any of the techno-babble I just spouted off. You might also check my blog for some other cheap solutions to the problems we're all facing.