Google has small spyplanes taking hi-res pix above some major cities - the latest step in its plan to create a digital map of the world.
Google's using a fleet of planes owned and operated by contractors, flown exclusively for Google. Asked about potential privacy issues, it said it was like all aerial imagery, and that the type of pictures have been used for a long time. Google's used planes for photos in the past, but not systemically like this before.
For years Google's had camera-equipped cars roaming the globe, taking panoramic pictures for its mapping service Street View: this raised privacy concerns here in NZ as well as other countries. You may recall in 2010, Google admitted the cars had accidentally collected emails, passwords and other personal data from people's home wireless networks. The Street View cars have driven more than 8million km/5million miles photographing streets all over the world, for the one billion active users of its maps.
When asked if it had plans to use unmanned aerial drones to gather 3D photos, Google dodged the question, saying drones were still being evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration: "That's a larger can of worms that we're not going to get into here." Yes or No would have been more reassuring.
So there's already global satellite imagery on-line, Google Earth, Street View with cutesy 3D buildings, coupled with publically-supplied photographs of locations via Panoramio, now what sounds like a highly-detailed flight simulator. With such a deluge of hi-detail imagery available, I have one simple question: WHY?
No-one spends this much money just to share pretty pictures...