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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The actual title of the artilce at is “Does Google Earth Reveal Military Secrets?” That’s a sort of shorthand for other offerings like it. The NewsFactor Network peice covers a lot of ground that’s been covered before. It includes the calmer voices of people like John Pike from

“The cat’s already out of the bag,” Pike says. He adds that the kinds of images found on Google Earth are “not particularly useful” from a military perspective, and that there is “a negligible risk” to a free country’s national security.

The article also shows the “everydayness” of such imagery:

In fact, as Mark Brender, vice president of communications and marketing at the satellite-imagery provider GeoEye, was being interviewed for this article, he was interrupted by another call. It was a request from CNN to obtain satellite photos of the area in North Korea where a long-range missile was reportedly being fueled.

The article also reiterates something that I find myself telling lots of well educated folks in this industry: that Google does not modify its imagery.

Google, whose satellite images are perhaps the best known on the Net, has a no-modification policy. “Google doesn’t doctor or change the imagery that we receive from our third-party satellite data providers,” the company said in a statement. “If users are seeing ‘blurred’ imagery in Google Earth, the satellite images came to us that way from our data providers.”


by Adena Schutzberg on 06/27 at 11:03 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

In a press release I confess I missed last week, NAVTEQ launched a website to help users of in-car navigation systems get data updates.

The strangely named “Sat Nav Challenge” website is meant to challenge “satellite navigation users to discover whether a map update exists for either their fixed or portable navigation systems. ” The site is aimed at European users. Visitors key in their type of nav system and an e-mail address. The site responds if data is available, and if not teh user can request notification when it will be. If another resource (like a car dealer) is the right place to find new data, the system will share that, too.

Based on comments we’ve received on articles about nav systems and data challenges at Directions Magazine, such a site is long overdue! I’d think long and hard about purchasing a system that does not offer an easy (not a challenging!) way to get udpated data.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/27 at 10:26 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

USA Today has a column where a real live pilot (ok she just joined Microsoft’s Flight Simulator team, but she used to be a pilot) answers reader questions. Today’s is a classic:

Why do passenger-carried GPS receivers have to be turned off during takeoff and landing and for some airlines during the entire flight? They can only RECEIVE radio signals, and thus cannot interfere with anything.

The answer, is short is that GPS are considered Portable Electronic Devices and those that emit signals and those that do not are considered to be in the same category. That said, each airline can decide for itself whether GPS receivers are ok on board except during take off and landing. The article offers a link to a site with that info.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/27 at 10:05 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Much of the vision in the new world of computing relies on separating content from presentation. In mapping WMS/WFS are standards for delivering content (in this case images of maps and vector features respectively). Its companion styled layer descriptor (SLD) stores “the how its supposed to look” information. Viola - separating content from presentation. Web designers write content in HTML and use cascading style sheets (CSS) to make it pretty.

Strangely, in other areas in geospatial we are going backwards. Consider this statement from a press release on a GIS product for the Mac.

The Earth Explorer 4.5 supports many operating systems, Windows 2000/ME/XP/NT and Mac OS X. For Mac OS users, Earth Explorer 4.5 is brilliant choice, for it is one of the few leading high-resolution GIS software designed for Mac OS in the market.

The release goes on to document the data provided with the software:

Zoom in as close as to road/street-level. View 1m/pixel resolution digital satellite imagery for inner states of America; and 20m/pixel resolution satellite imagery for outside of America.

With advances in all types of geospatial software in the ability to “add your data,” (this package offers the ability to “add and display user-definable Place Marks, Paths and personal remarks over places on the digital map.”) this is a great time to highlight the separation of content and presentation.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/27 at 06:28 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“If flu cases continue to appear in the medical system, then we start to get a pattern of its existence. We must immediately put in resources to stop the flu. We must remediate it, we must give out vaccines to people who might have been exposed to these people. The geography is crucial.”

- Charles Croner of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) He told this to reporters on the sidelines of a conference on GIS in Hong Kong. While obvious to those in the field, his statements make it clear to the world the power of GIS in health care and prevention strategies. The title of the article from Reuters misled me to think it was about remote sensing: “Experts call for computer imaging to halt outbreaks”

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/27 at 06:22 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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