Google cranks up the res on maps

Mecca, Saudi Arabia where each year more than 15 million Muslims visit this important religious site. Here you can see Abraj Al Bait, one of the world largest clock towers, visible even from space!

I was reading about Google’s new map resolution, and it struck me this would have been very interesting had it happened during the cold war:

 Link— Improving the availability of more high quality imagery is one of the many ways we’re continuing to bring you the most comprehensive and accurate maps of the world. In this month’s update, you’ll find another extensive refresh to our high resolution aerial and satellite imagery (viewable in both Google Maps and Google Earth), as well as new 45 degree imagery in Google Maps spanning 30 new cities. Google Maps and Earth now feature updated aerial imagery for more than 20 locations, and updated satellite imagery for more than 60 regions. Here are a few interesting locations included in our latest release.


  1. kewball says

    …had it happened during the cold war

    Huh? You speak as though the cold war had somehow stopped sometime prior to the next Tuesday after tomorrow. Just because you’re no longer paying attention doesn’t mean hostilities have ceased.

  2. chrisj says

    “visible even from space!”

    Um, so’s my house, using Google Maps (or Flash Earth, or one of several others). Whereas neither my house nor that clock tower would be visible from space with the unenhanced human eye.

  3. Nentuaby says

    Um, so’s my house, using Google Maps (or Flash Earth, or one of several others). Whereas neither my house nor that clock tower would be visible from space with the unenhanced human eye.

    Google Maps is mostly not satellite imagery, actually. The last five or so ticks on the zoom scale are shot from aircraft; that’s why there’s a maximum zoom in more remote areas where aircraft surveillance isn’t practical.

    As for visible from space with the naked eye… Sure it is. There are dozens of manmade objects visible from the lower orbits. That’s not an extraordinary claim. (“Visible from the moon” or whatever bullcrap people say about e.g. the Great Wall, on the other hand, is bullcrap.)

  4. kewball says

    Yes, the same war. One side stopped playing, the other didn’t. Absolutely. The Cold War franchise has been pursued by every U.S. President since Saint Ronald Reagan and shows no sign of slowing down. Once the other side (temporarily) withdrew, the U.S. simply changed the name to Spreading Democracy, or whatever, and carried on regardless.

    In other words, what is commonly called the Cold War is a proper subset of American Empire.

    Getting back on topic, yes it’s terrific to chase news headlines with the Google Earth, especially Street View. I’m thinking Google should merge with the U.S. Post Office, somehow, with the result being an updated (and quite possibly less expensive) Constitutional mandate, bringing the Post Office into the Information Age.

  5. says

    I was involved 8-ish years back in putting a GIS system online for a government organization. We were contacted by the state-level version of FEMA and told that we had to reduce the resolution (lower already than many other online sources of satellite imagery, even back then) to blur out the local nuclear power plant, because high res imagery would apparently make it vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

  6. postman says

    That’s just bizzare. You redifine what the cold war means and then complain when someone uses the common interpretation of the term. Did you have a point?

  7. kewball says

    The Cold War paused a wee bit in the early 1990s while the two major players reloaded. The Cold War continues apace:

    Vladimir Putin said that Mitt Romney’s remarks on Russia, which he dubbed America’s “number-one geopolitical foe,” have validated Moscow’s stance towards the US missile defense program.
    “[Romney] has again confirmed the correctness of our position on missile defense problems,” Putin told reporters after a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic. “It’s not just us that he has convinced of this but, I think, the international community and our European partners as well.”
    Romney’s statements “serve to bolster our positions in negotiations on this sensitive issue,” the Russian leader said.
    “What is most important for us is that even if Romney does not win these elections, he or a man with similar views could come to power in four years, and we should bear this in mind by planning our security according to a long historical perspective,” Putin noted.
    Moscow, which believes the system represents a national security threat, has warned on numerous occasions that the project could spark “another arms race”

    …this via although it’s a generally-reported story.

    Point? You can wish the Cold War dead and forgotten but your candidate Romney knows better.

  8. says

    Romney says a lot of things, but he isn’t the president at the time of writing. And sure, the USA and the Russian Federation may not be the bosomest of buddies, but neither are they waving nukes at each other to anything like the degree they once did. They may yet come to do so again, but we’ll decide whether to consider that a continuation of the Cold War if and when it happens.

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