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April 20, 2005

Google Shows All

I posted something last week about using Google to take a sky-high peek at any place here in the United States.

I was showing a friend of mine (let's just call her Elly) this feature on Google. I zoomed in on UCSD and showed her the Price Center and the parking lot where she parks. I then zoomed in on the Navy base where I work and showed her different landmarks on the base that look itty-bitty from orbit, specifically the static aircraft mounted on pedestals on the main drag.

As I was driving into work this afternoon and going past those static planes the thought occured to me: what is to stop someone from using this Google Map function to plan a terrorist attack?? Granted, the resolution of the satellite imagery isn't great, but it's still good enough to get a idea of the layout of any specific area.

For instance:

Or how about some other scenic spots?Just curious - anyone else thought of this?


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Comments on Google Shows All

I read somewhere that if you pay for the Keyhole service that these images derive from, you can zoom in close enough on the White House to see people on the grounds..... That's not good if you can zoom in that close on some of these other places.

The encouraging thing is that I doubt the pictures are updated frequently. That would keep the bad guys from using the satellite footage to learn about movements.

|| Posted by caltechgirl, April 20, 2005 03:13 PM ||

I think all of the imagery was from last summer - there's a huge dirt lot near my place that's now a lot of parking spaces and a new cancer research center.

But still - the layout of some of these places doesn't change that much. Some info is still a B-A-D thing....

|| Posted by Mad Mikey, April 20, 2005 03:20 PM ||

There was a segment on the news about that very concern, but they said that the images were at least six months old, so would be terrorists are using old data.

|| Posted by Daniel Martinez, April 21, 2005 01:25 AM ||

I just read an article on this subject. Since 911, the location of our nuclear plants is "secret". Right. Some guy got on the Internet and in a matter of minutes, had the address, map coordinates, satellite imagery, you name it.

I think this is actually a GOOD thing. When you know or believe you are vulnerable, you tend to do things about it. Increase security, run vulnerability tests, etc. When you're fat, dumb and happy - thinking you've got all of your bases covered - you tend to get your ass handed to you.

Thankfully, the military is very good at physical security. The Department of Energy would be wise to "rent" some military folks to run vulnerability tests against some of their sites. It would scare the hell out of them.

|| Posted by The Other Mike S, April 21, 2005 09:02 AM ||

Mike,

These photos are from the Spring of 2003. Note that Petco Park is still under construction, and there's a baseball diamond at Qualcomm.

|| Posted by SMASH, April 21, 2005 03:21 PM ||

True, but to my recollection the layout of North Island hasn't changed much.

Bottom line: it's still IMO too much info about military installations....

|| Posted by Mad Mikey, April 21, 2005 03:34 PM ||

We had Keyhole last year. I wanted to see if we could see troops at the Baghdad Int. Airport, but we couldn't. We could see the airport pretty well, though.

I decided to download Keyhole Pro. You should really give it a shot, for seven days. They have a 7 day free trial, otherwise the Pro version is $599 a year (the Lite version is 29.99) I checked out Baghdad, Fallujah, Washington, DC, and San Diego. The clarity of San Diego is amazing. DC wasn't so good, and Baghdad and Fallujah wasn't either. But it does indicate how good "they" can see anytime they want...

|| Posted by scroff, April 22, 2005 09:34 PM ||

They intentionally pixellate what would be major potential targets on the Google service - go look at the White House and the Capitol for an example.

But it's not like the locations of such places are secret. You can still locate the addresses of anything you want. The September 11 attacks were planned and executed without these services, and you can get similar data from the USGS, libraries, and map stores without a computer.

I think it's unfortunate that they'll blur images of the Capitol, given that such imagery and location information is widely available. This would be a more valuable tool for the public, teachers, businesses, you-name-it, if those locations were allowed for full resolution viewing. There's not really any way to protect the location of anything, anymore.

And some of the pics are several years old. The one for Dallas is from the mid-90s. There are probably periodic updates, but they're not continuous. I don't know about the Keyhole service, but Google's not going to let anybody follow ship movements. Besides, I'd be surprised if the military hasn't already addressed what pictures are used for the service.

There's another service put out by NASA called World Wind. It's a big download (170 MB), but it lets you zoom in on anywhere in the world for geography, and anywhere in the US to 1 m resolution (though tere appears to be some introduced distortion over some major urban areas). You need a live (and fast) connection to really put it to use, though.

CS

|| Posted by Captain Sunshine, April 23, 2005 05:36 PM ||

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Captain Sunshine said:

They intentionally pixellate what would be major potential targets on the Google service - go loo Read more in Google Shows All
scroff said:

We had Keyhole last year. I wanted to see if we could see troops at the Baghdad Int. Airport, but Read more in Google Shows All
Mad Mikey said:

True, but to my recollection the layout of North Island hasn't changed much.

Bottom line: Read more in Google Shows All
SMASH said:

Mike,

These photos are from the Spring of 2003. Note that Petco Park is still under cons Read more in Google Shows All
The Other Mike S said:

I just read an article on this subject. Since 911, the location of our nuclear plants is "secret Read more in Google Shows All
Daniel Martinez said:

There was a segment on the news about that very concern, but they said that the images were at le Read more in Google Shows All

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