One of the facts of life for a state CIO is that much of the information you deal with has latlong coordinates associated with it (all the other records have social security numbers). While I was in Colorado this week, I had an opportunity to spend a few hours talking with John Gage, the Chief Scientist at Sun.
John showed me a piece of software called EarthViewer. If you like maps, even a little, you'll love this program. The program uses Keyhole satellite data to give you a view or anywhere on earth. The software allows you to fly over the landscape. Type in an address and you "fly" there in seconds. I had fun going from where I grew up in Idaho to my brother's house in Virginia. If the target point is in a metro zone, you can see things with 1m resolution.
Dave Lorenzini, the CEO of Keyhole, Inc, makers of EarthViewer, has been great in getting me hooked up and talking to our GIS folks. We have data layers for everything. Putting them in this system would allow police to fly over an area and become familiar with it, find manholes, utilities etc. and even enter buildings based on plans all as part of a simulation with real live data. We could make it as detailed as we want. In a disaster, you could take reconnaissance pictures of the area and then survey the damage area in as much detail as you like from a safe distance. Of course, you could do those things before, but the EarthViewer makes it accessible to people without training in specialized GIS tools.