Google Maps Shows Pre-Katrina Pics - YOUR TAKE?

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madmatt
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Google Maps Shows Pre-Katrina Pics - YOUR TAKE?

Post by madmatt » Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:12 am

Given the heavy representation of tech-knowledge hereabouts, as well as the predisposition to conspiracy theories - what do you think?


Pre-Katrina images draw fire to Google
A map service replaces wreckage with intact views. A congressional panel sees injustice.
From the Associated Press
April 2, 2007

NEW ORLEANS — Google Inc.'s replacement of post-Hurricane Katrina satellite imagery on its map portal with images of the region before the storm does a "great injustice" to the storm's victims, a congressional subcommittee said.

The House Committee on Science and Technology's subcommittee on investigations and oversight Friday asked Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt to explain why his company was using the outdated imagery.

The subcommittee cited an Associated Press report on the images.

"Google's use of old imagery appears to be doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history," subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller (D-N.C.) wrote in a letter to Schmidt.

Swapping the post-Katrina images and the ruin they revealed for others showing an idyllic city dumbfounded many locals and even sparked suspicions that the company and civic leaders were conspiring to portray the area's recovery as progressing better than it is.

Andrew Kovacs, a Google spokesman, said the company had received the letter but had no immediate response.

After Katrina, Google's satellite images were in high demand among exiles and hurricane victims who were anxious to see the condition of their homes.

Now, though, a virtual trip through New Orleans is a surreal experience of scrolling across a landscape of packed parking lots and boat-filled marinas.

The reality, of course, is very different. Entire neighborhoods are now slab mosaics where houses once stood. Shopping malls, churches and marinas are empty of life, many gone altogether.

John Hanke, Google's director for maps and satellite imagery, said, "A combination of factors including imagery date, resolution and clarity" go into deciding what imagery to provide.

"The latest update from one of our information providers substantially improved the imagery detail of the New Orleans area," Hanke said in a news release about the switch.

Kovacs said efforts were underway to use more current imagery.

It was not clear when the current images replaced views of the city that were taken after Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, flooding about 80% of New Orleans.

Miller asked Google to brief his staff by Friday on who made the decision to replace the imagery and to disclose whether Google had been contacted by the city, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey or any other government entity about changing the imagery.

"To use older, pre-Katrina imagery when more recent images are available without some explanation as to why appears to be fundamentally dishonest," Miller said.

Edith Holleman, staff counsel for the House panel, said it would be useful to understand how Google acquires and manages its imagery because "people see Google and other Internet engines and it's almost like the official word."

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google does provide imagery of New Orleans and the region after Katrina through its Google Earth service.

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mdmf007
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Post by mdmf007 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:08 am

Google earth is a private company, They dont have to put it up anything up at all.

you get what you pay for
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madmatt
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Post by madmatt » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:03 am

mdmf007 wrote:Google earth is a private company, They dont have to put it up anything up at all.

you get what you pay for
Actually Google is a public company, but you're right that they're not accountable to the public, only their shareholders.

But the question here (like with many current affairs and public scandals) isn't whether they MUST show New Orleans as it actually is, but whether they SHOULD.

I personally think they should show pictures that are as recent as possible. I also think they are doing a lot of people a disservice by not showing what Katrina damage looks like, for many obvious reasons.

As a more generalized complaint, I (and many professionals) in my daily work, use googlemaps sat pics to see what streets, intersections, malls, parks, etc. look like in real life. I know that the pics are a couple months old, but what if I were to try to give people directions to an event (which I often do) and the place I am sending them has been wiped off the map by a landslide (which happens in Socal sometimes).

Reminder that Google has in its mission statement "Don't be evil."

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Post by Dork » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:17 am

Without knowing when the post-katrina images were taken I don't know what to make of this. One possible explanation could be that the most recent images they had were taken right after the storm. Worst case images with still-flooded streets, things that could be bodies, boats blocking roads, etc could be disturbing to people and not particularly useful to people trying to find their nearest Starbucks. If the images were only a few months old, then it seems pretty shady.

I doubt it was any sort of conspiracy (what's there to gain?) more likely, someone made a judgement call based on what images were available to them and didn't consider the possibility of an outcry.

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Post by mdmf007 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:18 am

Madmatt

We use Googlepro daily as well and find it invaluable. We use it a decade ago when it was called keyhole, and was a lot harder to use then.

You make a good point, I believe that all GIS professionals as well as the public would prefer to see hte latest data set published if it is available. Some image sets are decades old, in poor resolution, and woefully outdated. Take a look at Indonesia, google shows all of the damage there and I know they have updated images for the Louisianna, and SE US. So your right why not publish them?

later
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Post by madmatt » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:30 am

Dork wrote: I doubt it was any sort of conspiracy (what's there to gain?)
Plenty for the many groups who would wish to promote the speedy redevelopment of New Orleans. It would help in attracting investment and businesses. It would definitely be a big help for tourism reasons. It would also help politically for anyone who might be criticized for slow or non-existant recovery efforts.

Then there's, in my view, the most cynical but not unrealistic scenario: map out the Katrina damaged areas. Overlay the areas where recovery work has taken place. Overlay economic and racial data - and voila - instant scandal! They are rebuilding white well to do areas more quickly!

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Post by Ugly Dougly » Mon Apr 02, 2007 12:32 pm

I don't know how old the average image on Google Earth is, but I've seen places I know of first-hand that look like the images are about two years old.

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Post by Bob » Mon Apr 02, 2007 12:46 pm

Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

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Post by MikeVDS » Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:57 pm

I doubt it was any sort of conspiracy (what's there to gain?)
He means, what is their to gain for Google by reverting back? If they did it on their own, the only good explanation would be something along the lines of what was described (Images that disturb people).

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Post by Lassen Forge » Mon Apr 02, 2007 4:42 pm

MikeVDS wrote:
I doubt it was any sort of conspiracy (what's there to gain?)
He means, what is their to gain for Google by reverting back? If they did it on their own, the only good explanation would be something along the lines of what was described (Images that disturb people).
Payola by the New Orleans Visitor and Convention Buerau?

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Post by gyre » Mon Apr 02, 2007 4:53 pm

Another reason to avoid google all the time, besides their fake websites and links.
Nothing on the internet has been as disappointing as google.
The second I spot a google link, I'm gone.
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Re: Google Maps Shows Pre-Katrina Pics - YOUR TAKE?

Post by MoisturePup » Mon Apr 02, 2007 4:59 pm

My official take on the matter is "sigh"

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Post by madmatt » Mon Apr 02, 2007 5:05 pm

Bob wrote:They should update this one.

http://www.google.com/maps?q=Gerlach,+N ... 9&t=h&om=1
Oh my god - Google destroyed Gerlach!!!

They read this threat obviously, and finding NO TRACE of Black Rock City, wiped out the nearest town, Gerlach.

Nice, Bob.

.

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Post by BAS » Mon Apr 02, 2007 6:36 pm

mdmf007 wrote:Google earth is a private company, They dont have to put it up anything up at all.

you get what you pay for
Actually, in a capitalist economy, you get less than what you pay for so that a profit is generated.

Anyway, the real issue here is, I think, WHY they decided to revert to old images. Plus, whether or not they should be using newer images. (These last two points have, of course, been made by other people before me-- I'm just agreeing with them in a long winded fashion. :wink: )

It just seems weird to me. I'd think that Google would want to have a reputation of accuracy, since being perceived as being inaccurate could only help their competition. Maybe the market isn't competitive enough? (After all, competition only works if their is a government to insure that the market remains competitive. The economy needs a system of checks and balances just at the government does. [I once argued this point on a mailing lists with a strong libertarian bent to it. To my surprise a lot of the libertarian on the list wound up agreeing with me, although the anarchist I was debating(?) never did.])

Argh! My mind is wandering all over the place tonight. Maybe my meds need adjusting! (Or reality does...?)



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Post by karine » Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:38 pm

I can tell you, that it was pretty depressing to see the flooded homes in our neighborhood STILL FLOODED almost a year after the water was gone.

I am not surprised the flood shots finally got pulled off, but surprised to hear they put old images back up.
I'll go take a peek to see.

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Post by karine » Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:44 pm

Well, if you go to Google Maps, and you look at an address (of an area that was flooded)- you can see these are NOW images, of "today"... at least in Lakeview / 9th ward areas.

They may have changed it IN ONE DAY, (since whatever "inquiries" to Google were made) but the images are current.

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Post by PurpleKoosh » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:48 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:I don't know how old the average image on Google Earth is, but I've seen places I know of first-hand that look like the images are about two years old.
*nods* The photos of my neighborhood could have been taken no later than 13 May 2004, because my old work vehicle is parked behind my garage, and I was laid off on 14 May.
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Post by Bob » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:23 am

madmatt wrote:Oh my god - Google destroyed Gerlach!!!

They read this threat obviously, and finding NO TRACE of Black Rock City, wiped out the nearest town, Gerlach.

Nice, Bob.

That was the 1998 event site, in case nobody else recognized it.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

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Post by karine » Sun May 13, 2007 7:09 pm

Image No Trace of BRC ? Gerlach?!

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Post by Wind_Borne » Sun May 13, 2007 10:18 pm

BAS wrote:
Actually, in a capitalist economy, you get less than what you pay for so that a profit is generated.
To the contrary... you only buy something when you want it more than you want the money it costs. In a free-market all trades are mutually beneficial. (Mafia protection rackets and fraud don't count; those are not consensual transactions)
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Products-the Crappification of America

Post by gyre » Sun May 13, 2007 10:36 pm

Much of our economy operates under an oligarchy.
As long as the republicans have declared war on free market capitalism, we'll have a long wait.
Ebay is as close as we have to a free market, and it is far from perfect.

How much effect does the free market have on steel, aluminum or oil?

We will live to see the end of the music distribution racket though.
The latest gimmick is they want embedded software in all music.
I expect they will force a totally unsatisfactory format for hidef on the market.
Don't put up with it.
I'll go with tape or hard drives.

I call it the crappification of the market.
When professional products have no similarity to consumer lines,
we're getting ripped off.
Japanese consumers won't put up with it.
Why should we?
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Post by Wind_Borne » Sun May 13, 2007 11:30 pm

In the interest of countering thread drift....

Perhaps Google could show us what New Orleans will look like in 50 years -- a shallow cove on the Gulf of Mexico -- and people seeing that could stop wasting their lives on a doomed city.
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
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Post by dragonfly Jafe » Mon May 14, 2007 6:05 am

...no different from "News" stations that keep replaying canned casters, day after day, even though the actual News has changed. Sometimes it takes 2-3 days for all the various casters to get on the same "day" news-wise, it can be quite entertaining at times. GOGGLE is the same way - just entertainment / propaganda, not valid information.

Accurate information will soon become the most valuable commodity (if it isn't already)
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer

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