Last December, Google introduced its Google Maps Engine public-data program as a way for organizations to easily publish their map data online using its tools. On Thursday, the search giant expanded that program, launching a an interactive digital atlas called “Google Maps Gallery” intended to help those outfits make their maps easier to find online.

Google’s program looks like a response to mapping vendor Esri, which earlier this month announced that its thousands of government customers in the U.S. could make their geographic information system data open to the public.

“Governments, nonprofits and businesses have some of the most valuable mapping data in the world, but it’s often locked away and not accessible to the public,” Jordan Breckenridge, product manager of Google Maps, wrote on the Google Enterprise blog.

Powered by Google’s cloud infrastructure, Google Maps Gallery makes it easy to access all kinds of mapping data, from population statistics to municipal projects to emergency evacuation routes. Businesses, nonprofits and governments can also manage their own maps with styling and branding, as well as synchronize them with maps from legacy systems.

To start, Google Maps Gallery has opened up mapping data from the World Bank Group, National Geographic Society, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Emergency Management and City of Edmonton.

Images by Google Maps Engine