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The Sky Might Be Falling [Or Not]

This is just stupid: Aerial images online endanger national security, critics say.

I have looked at the satellite photos of my neighborhood, and they are five years old. You can’t use them to find my house from three of the four possible starting points, and if you don’t live here you probably wouldn’t see the fourth starting point from street level. Things change.

If you think that an aerial view is a lot of help for anything other than aerial bombing, you have never been in a ground attack. There is no scale with these pictures that is adequate for a ground assault, so you would have to conduct reconnaissance to have any hope of success.

If al Qaeda had an air force and guided weapons the paranoia might be justified, but suggesting that “some guy in a tent” is going to be materially assisted by these photos is just stupid.


1 hipparchia { 06.05.09 at 10:05 pm }

the aerial photos for here all show blue roofs.

this was the first i heard of the aerial photos flap. google street view strikes me as more of problem than the aerial views.

2 Bryan { 06.05.09 at 11:42 pm }

The aerials are all from after Ivan. I recognize it from the blue roofs, and could track it down further by asking people when they got their roof fixed, because a couple of people who still have blue roofs in the photos got their roofs repair quickly.

I don’t worry about street view locally, because they have the addresses all screwed up. They must have used their own map, which is also off by at least a block on the numbering in most places, and half the time they have the odd-even numbers switched.

The GPS directions in the local rental cars will get you lost, arrested, or, in at least one case, killed if you follow them, because they tell you to turn in the middle of a bridge.

3 Badtux { 06.06.09 at 11:37 pm }

I swear, the U.S. is becoming more and more like the Soviet Union every day. What next, they ban maps and *street signs* because they might be used by terrorists to find their targets? Wow, then we get to be like a cab driver in Moscow, driving around for days lost trying to find wherever his fare wants to get to!

– Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Badtux´s last blog post..How to create a Charlie Manson

4 Bryan { 06.07.09 at 12:40 am }

Somewhere in a box I have a couple of school maps from the Soviet Union, and nothing is where it is. The rivers and cities are all in the wrong places. The only accurate maps were under the control of the KGB. All aircraft navigators were in the KGB.

This continued past the break-up of the Soviet Union.

You have to wonder how some of these people survived childhood, with all of the “monsters” under their beds, and in the closets.

5 Badtux { 06.07.09 at 1:00 am }

Oh yeah, about the accuracy of GPS directions, I once was at Panamint Springs and wanted to get to Darwin. I punched Darwin into the GPS, and it promptly routed me to Darwin. Only problem: The route given to me by the GPS took me directly up Darwin Falls, a set of hundred-foot-tall waterfalls where there is no road and never *has* been a road, the original Darwin Toll Road bypassed the falls by taking a wash to the east immediately before the falls, and then climbing up onto Zinc Hill before crossing over a saddle and falling down onto the west into a wash that was above the falls. And you will *not* go over that route in a 2wd automobile either, it’s child’s play even for a stock Jeep Wrangler, but at the very least you’d rip the chin spoiler off a typical automobile if you didn’t get bogged down in the sand in the wash. The actual paved route to Darwin that can be driven by a 2wd automobile isn’t even in the same general vicinity as the way the GPS tried to send me…

So maybe we’re trying for Soviet-style maps anyhow, though in this case the only people confused by the maps are German tourists to the Death Valley area who regularly get yanked out of there while complaining, “but my GPS showed a road here!”. Heh.

Badtux´s last blog post..How to create a Charlie Manson

6 jelly { 06.07.09 at 2:05 pm }

I think Google is horribly irresponsible with this information as well as personal and private information. Just because they have information doesn’t mean should publish it. I own an entertainment company specializing in music but I get calls for other types of ‘entertainment’ and, when you google my phone number, my home address shows up. So when I have a very large male stranger show up at my front door at 3 am expecting to be entertained, you can bet I am really not happy with Google… but they refuse to delete MY information form their database. It is MY information, not theirs, but they don’t seem to understand the difference. They are endangering individuals and very possibly our national security.

7 Bryan { 06.07.09 at 5:02 pm }

Jelly, Google is primarily a search engine, and as long as you deal with people who don’t even think about the problems of putting individuals private information on the Internet. like many local telephone companies, the Google engine will eventually find it.

You have the responsibility of protecting your own data in most cases, and must explicitly tell those you deal with that you don’t want the information released, to protect it. This isn’t something that Google has done, this is something that governments on all levels have allowed to happen.

Everyone creates public records literally from birth to death, because certificates of both are public records. If you buy property, that is a public record. If you are arrested, that is a public record. If you have a professional or business license of any kind, that is a public record.

The only difference is that today many of those records are accessible via the Internet, rather than having to go to a local government office.

If someone was really interested they could have always found out.

A big dog is the best immediate solution, but people need to start paying attention to the agreements they sign and start opting out of allowing the utilities and financial institutions to release their information.

8 Bryan { 06.07.09 at 5:17 pm }

You really have to wonder, Badtux, what the people who create the GPS maps are using for their base documents. I think search and rescue people are going to get a workout in the coming census if the workers are going to be depending on GPS to guide them. We have some small towns in the North County that even people who live there had trouble finding when Ivan took out all of the signs, and no small number of landmarks. When you are looking for a specific two-line road in pine woods with no buildings on the main road, it becomes a challenge.

Some of it is probably the difference between the original design and what actually got built, but the local bridge that the stupid machine was telling my brother to turn on, has been there for 40 years.

9 hubert { 06.07.09 at 6:55 pm }

The nuclear power plant by me in Houston, the South Texas Project, is extraordinarily well built and well protected, with SWAT teams and multiple barriers. Who cares if terrorists can get an overview of the facility?! They aren’t getting anywhere.

10 Bryan { 06.07.09 at 7:52 pm }

The San Onofre plant in California sits between the Pacific and I-5, which makes it impossible not to see. Of course, it is surrounded by Camp Pendleton and thousands of Marines, so attacking it wouldn’t be a wise move.

If they want to worry about security threats, they should start with Congress.