The creator of Google Maps/Earth says people in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area are helping transform lives around the world. Michael Jones is in the region this week and spoke with the Nebraska Radio Network between engagements at the Qwest Center in Omaha and Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.
Jones acts as an ambassador for the search engine giant Google, meeting with government leaders and others to explain changes in technology and potential social implications. “Some of them are very subtle and hard to anticipate and Google may not have the answer, but we have a position to see changes that are happening,” Jones explained. “It’s almost like we can see the tidal wave, so we want to tell people, ‘I see a tidal wave, you might want to think about that.’ We can’t tell them what they should do, but we can at least point out things we see happening.”
Google Earth displays satellite images of the Earth’s surface, allowing users to zoom in on cities, buildings and houses. It’s a valuable tool for people looking to purchase a house near a good school, but Jones says Google Earth also helps famed primate researcher Jane Goodall track chimpanzee behavior in Africa, while tribes living along the Amazon can find plants for food or medicine.
Jones says computer technology is similar to a power tool or a piece of farm machinery. “Computers are a tool to make a person have like a super brain, to really put your intellect and judgment in high gear,” Jones said. “What computer science people do is learn the tools, techniques, tricks and skills to do that for other people.”
Google opened a data center in Council Bluffs in May of last year. Jones says the data center is doing more than just providing the area with roughly 200 high tech jobs. “Council Bluffs, having us and welcoming us, is really transforming lives of people all around the world,” Jones said. “It may not be obvious to people, but I want to make it a little more obvious than it may already be.”