Satellite images added to Google maps

News of Google Maps adding satellite images has been

all

over

the

web

since yesterday. I tried it by looking up my home address, and it does work. Amazing, yet kind of creepy! Is this an invasion of privacy? Has Google gone to far?

By the way, to see my library (Evans Library at Texas A&M University), click here. It is the large, white, rectangular building in the center of the image.

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Funny thing about satellite photos...

..they've been around a while. I even downloaded satellite photos of an area near where I lived while I was in school for a digital maps librarianship GIS class project I did (you can get them for all of Massachusetts, in color and B/W). They're out there, and you can get them for free in some cases, you just need to know where to get them and how to use them. I think it'll be more the hype of the Google Maps satellite feature that generates the most fear.Fear the omniscient Googlemonster! :D

I'm with Andrea on this one

Fact is, the satellite photo is interesting but essentially useless. I mean, the resolution isn't good enough to spot you engaging in post-May 1 special activities and they're not real-time photos anyway...

The address-to-photo linkage also isn't all that hot. For my own address, the pinpoint is half a block away and on the wrong side of the street. Not that it matters: Mapquest, MSN Directions, and several others will show someone just how to find our house if they know the address. Which also isn't an invasion of privacy...except to the extent that you're trying to keep your name separated from your address, and the open web has undermined that attempt.

It's the network effect.

Google searching added to existing satellite photo tech should make for some interesting network effects. Now the FSBO home sellers have an easy alternative to some of the tools that the big realtors have. Hikers and campers (and geocachers) can do some advance scouting of locations. Personally, I've used it to scout for lost train stations. Abandoned rights-of-way really stand out in satellite imagery. Even ones that are decades overgrown.


It's been interesting to look for the lines where the multiple photos were stitched together. Hey, it's Autumn on one side of the street, and Spring on the other! An easy place to notice is on rivers, like the Potomac, south of DC. I've found the occasional place where the streets don't seem to line up where the edges meet. Some of the urban maps even have little fluffy clouds in them.


If you don't mind black and white, you can get better resolution with older photos using USAPhotoMaps.

How close is too close?

The addition of satellite photos to Google Maps seems significant to me for a few reasons, some which have already been mentioned. Google has created a service that is easy, even intuitive, to use. With it's ease of use, and Google's brand recognition, it will get used a lot. While Andrea and Walt say it isn't any big deal, I disagree. There is a LOT more information provide by those photos: the shape of buildings, the presence of footpaths, whether an open area is undeveloped or a golf course. Maybe most of this information it is insignificant (I can count the nubmer of swimming pools in my neighborhood, for instance). But the fact that that information is availabe means something. It might be useful to somebody, in ways we haven't thought of, whether for good or ill. I'm also concerned about two other characteristics of these maps. It is technologically feasible that at some point in the future, there will be real-time images (I suppose the CIA can already do this) and the images will be at a much sharper resolution. I suppose this can be had at a cost now, but will this be available for free in the future? Technologically, it will eventually be possible for a satellite to watch me water my lawn. What then? Will there be a no-satellite list that I can sign on to (much like a no-call list) that will keep my viz-info from being shared? Where is the limit between public and private image information?

Re:Funny thing about satellite photos...

Oh, you're *that* Andrea! ...Funny thing about lisnews: somtimes someone posts and you think, "they so went to my school."

Re:Funny thing about satellite photos...

I always feel a little "eep!" whenever someone calls me *that* Andrea. I'm still getting used to it. :DIf you know me well enough, you know I'm horrible with names, but your name does sound familiar...

Re:It's the network effect.

Mmmm, geocaching...In my experience the b/w photos were available in the better resolutions (and many areas were only available in b/w anyway), which made laying streets over them much easier, and a little less laborious on the eyes. The Massachusetts map stuff I was working with had really nice blended seams, which was really impressive.Gah, I love GIS stuff. ESRI is such geekware! :)

Want a laugh?

My wife has a nutty step mother who is convinced that Mapquest and such are tools of the AntiChrist and he will use them to hunt down all the good people and kill them.

Re:It's the network effect.

Shoot. I meant to say something about imagining a way to tie in Google maps/photos and something like Flikr. I know Flikr has a published API and Google has one at least for general searching. Going from overhead views of an area to personal/professional photos of that area.


I'm sure there are any number of other sorts of cross-pollinations as well...

Re:How close is too close?

Well, if you are the Federal Government, you can always blot out the sensitive details... Individuals are unlikely to have that luxury, though.

Re:It's the network effect.

That would so totally be *sexy hot*. Perhaps the kids over at Airtight Interactive could mod the related tags browser to tap into Google Maps or something...

Re:Want a laugh?

:D!

Stop draggin' my house around

Man, I love the drag-to-reposition feature of Google Maps (and satellite photos)! I'd like to see dates on the photos, though; the pic of my locale is 3 years old. (Hello, Bradford pear tree in my back yard! Sorry you blew down last year!) A scale would be nice, too.

Yeah, aerial and sat photos have been available on the Web for years. I recall showing Microsoft's Terraserver to some really excited patrons back in 1999 or so.

BTW, Google owns Keyhole, a subscription service which claims to have 1-ft resolution pics of many places, and 3-inch rez of a few cities.

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