Monday, February 13, 2006

Google Earth Force

Google Earth may be the single most amazing use of technology I have ever seen. In case you don't know what Google Earth is, it's an interface to a visual model of the planet, created using satellite imagery. In some areas of the globe, the images are so precise you can zoom in to a street corner and see pedestrians, frozen in a moment captured some time in the past by a camera floating miles and miles above their heads. If you haven't experienced it, download it at and play with it. Enter the address of the house you were brought home to as a baby. Explore Manhattan from the air. Set the system to slowly fly over Puget Sound.

As I experience the wonder of Google Earth, it makes me curious as to just how detailed and real-time is the imagery the military have access to. My guess is "very." Privacy, as we knew it, is over.

However, I could think of some wonderful applications for the technology, if a few ordinary citizens were given access to the surveillance systems available to our military. (Or possibly even our weather service.) What if a retired person wanted to "adopt" a herd of elephant (or other endangered species), and monitor them by satellites, patrolling the region nearby for activity that might indicate poachers?


Krupo said...

For that to work, your mythical retiree would also need to adopt a satelite that could sit in geo-stationary orbit over the elephants' patch of Earth. ;)

Tom said...

Or simply have access to the imagery captured by such a bird.