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ziggy (25)

ziggy
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Journal of ziggy (25)

Monday April 04, 2005
10:00 PM

Google Maps and National Security

[ #24018 ]
I'm looking at taking a class on Capitol Hill, and I wanted to see where it was. So I put the address into google maps. Then I noticed that Google Maps now has satellite photos. Neat!

Scrolling around Washington, DC, a couple of tiles look a little funny. The satellite tiles have a copyright watermark, which is fair enough. But the White House and Capitol office buildings are fuzzed out, or hinted at, rather than shown at full detail. (And these maps do show a lot of detail. Just look at the trees.)

 

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, there's no reason to hide this information; if you are sufficiently determined to launch an attack on Washington DC from above (and incur the swift and immediate wrath of half the military aircraft on the Eastern Seaboard), you should be able to spot the Capitol dome by looking for the, um, Capitol dome. (The White House is naturally camouflaged[1] and survived one attack; let's hope it doesn't have to survive another.)

On the other hand, if you're sufficiently determined to launch an aerial attack on DC, there's no reason why Google should make it easier for you.

[1]: Thank you, Thomas Jefferson

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  • National security trumps all other concerns, like that pesky 'freedom' our representatives have been trying to get a leash on for all these years.
    --

    ------------------------------
    You are what you think.
  • It's odd that they didn't censor the view of area 51 [xrl.us]. What does that say about us?
    --
    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge
    • It's odd that they didn't censor the view of area 51.

      Are you sure? You've been there so you would recognize the missing xenoautopsy buildings as missing (if missing) even if the photoshop work was higher quality than the fuzzification of the capitol?

      : - )
      >=) (Alien Smiley)

      --
      Bill
      # I had a sig when sigs were cool
      use Sig;
  • I can't speak for the Capital offices, but the old executive offices (either side of the White House) are covered in fancy communications hardware. Commercial spy satellites are licensed by the NOAA. I wouldn't be surprised if the pixelating was done before 9/11 by whichever company took the pics.
    • No doubt that this data is scrubbed before it is cleared for civilian use. Best as I can tell, it's ~1m/pixel at the highest resolution, which is plenty good to identify one building from another, but not so good that you can read the newspapers littering the street to see when the photos were taken. (Military satellites supposedly has this capability, oh, 20 years ago.)

      I'm not pointing the finger at Google for anything (aside from the watermarking, which has their fingerprints all over it; besides, tha

      • No doubt that this data is scrubbed before it is cleared for civilian use.

        That implies the source is the U.S. government. While American sources might artificially limit the resolution, the French have been selling commercial satellite imagery for years, and have no such scruples.

        I'm not pointing the finger at Google for anything (aside from the watermarking, which has their fingerprints all over it; besides, that's cool and tastefully done).

        Interesting thing about the watermarking. The copyrigh

  • Two changes: 1) the world's geometry is now round instead of flat 2) the sat photos include the entire world, though not nearly as detailed photos as north america.
    --

    -DA [coder.com]