Just last week I mentioned a mess a Colorado state senator was in regarding what seemed like a connection between spending on satellite imagery legislation and a contribution from Lockheed Martin to his favorite charity. This weekend satellite imagery is part of another polictical mess, this time at the Pentagon. Knight Ridder reports that Mitchell Wade, who pleaded guilty last month to bribing U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif to send work to his company, MZM, also received some contracts from the Pentagon’s Joint Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA. That entity was created in 2002 to protect U.S. military in the U.S. from terrorism.
The work sent to MZM? The creation of a GIS in support of that mission. The statement of work, to which Knight Ridder had access, states MZM was to “assist the government in identifying and procuring data” on maps, “airports, ports, dams, churches/mosques/synagogues, schools [and] power plants.”
Knight Ridder reporter Jonathan S. Landay has my respect for stating, “It isn’t clear why U.S. intelligence agencies couldn’t do the work themselves.”
by Adena Schutzberg on 03/20 at 06:29 AM |
The traditional media caught up with story on Saturday. The Rocky Mountain News noted that Vexcel is based in Denver, the same hometown as Google-acquired @Last, makers of SketchUp. Also of note was the statement that the deal required regulatory approval in not only the U.S. but also Germany and Italy.
by Adena Schutzberg on 03/20 at 06:00 AM |
The Inquirer reports the acquisition and notes only a letter to Vexcel users as evidence. Gee, this is sort of like how we stumbled on Microsoft acquiring GeoTango late last year…
Update: Virtual Globes’ Alan Glennon has the official word.
Update 2: Microsoft shared this statement:
Microsoft has entered into an agreement with Vexcel Corporation to acquire the company. The acquisition is part of Microsoft’s exciting vision to deliver a dynamic, immersive digital representation of the real world that provides the best local search and mapping experience to consumers, businesses and government. Vexcel’s people, products, and services will play a key role in helping Microsoft deliver on this vision. The agreement requires regulatory approval in the United States and in certain EU countries (Germany and Italy), and more details will be provided once the deal is closed.
Update 3: Microsoft VE blog says the papers were signed last week.
by Adena Schutzberg on 03/17 at 08:47 AM |
In a not particularly earth-shattered article Wired highlights the new satellites expected from GeoEye and DigitalGlobe in the coming months/year. The spokespersons from the companies work very hard to make clear that the imagery is not in real time and that its overhead.
What the artilce does not cover is the real issue here: how long does it take to get these online services and in-car systems up to date imagery/street networks? I recall asking that of a data vendor once, basically, how often do you give “updated data” to clients? The answer, essentially was “some are monthly, one is weekly.” But, the data folks always caution that don’t know how quickly the custoers upload it to their systems!
Now, I know that “update changes only” solutions are making it easier to load updates, but I don’t think most people are impressed at the update rate on Google Earth/Live Local/etc. One way to impress us? Make the metadata on “date captured” available to users!
by Adena Schutzberg on 03/17 at 08:31 AM |
The Denver Post has a long and detailed article about State Sen. Tom Wiens who introduced a bill in the state legislature to provide funding to buy commercial imagery satellite imagery in support of wild fire fighting. Several days before the bill’s introduction, Lockheed Martin, a backer of Space Imaging, gave $100,000 to a charity Wiens heads. Wiens maintains there was no connection and that he was not aware of the relationship between the two companies. That part I follow. Then it gets complicated.
Apparently the bill got lots of support, but Wiens killed it after the state determined it’d cost $400 million to put a satellite in space. Huh? The original bill said they’d provide money to get commercial imagery! How is sending a satellite into space involved?
The best part of the article is a quote from Skip Edel, the Colorado State Forest Service’s expert on satellite-based imagery. He expressed his take on commercial satellite imagery:
“They don’t do well on monitoring active fires,” Edel said. “They don’t see through smoke.”
by Adena Schutzberg on 03/17 at 08:15 AM |