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More recently, two international companies have taken this concept to a new level. In April 2009, the U.K. firm Getmapping teamed with New Zealand-based NZ Aerial Mapping Limited (NZAM) so that both companies could have more-productive flying seasons using the best available digital camera technology. "Coming together from opposite ends of the Earth with diametrically opposed flying seasons enables us to bring far more resources to bear on both markets while at the same time providing far greater utilization of our significant and very expensive combined assets," said Mark Roberts, managing director of NZAM, in the news release.
That makes good business sense. But the two companies apparently have excellent marketing instincts, too. In August, they landed a spot on the BBC's "One Show." Until about six years ago, the video explains, many of Britain's military bases and secret installations were restricted from appearing on maps in order to prevent Cold War era espionage. "For all intents and purposes, it wouldn't exist," says a 30-year veteran surveyor for the government's mapping agency.
But this type of government regulation is no longer possible. Perhaps due, in part, to Getmapping itself. Founded in 1999, the company says it's the first to have up-to-date nationwide coverage. It also pioneered online delivery of aerial photography. Now, with updates to Google Earth, which marries aerial imagery of up to 12.5-cm resolution (including imagery by Getmapping) with satellite photography, anyone with access to the Internet can have a better-than-bird's-eye view of locations such as Britain’s GCHQ Trident missiles storage site, a top-secret listening post, and the country’s largest nuclear reactor.
While public access to highly sensitive imagery is, and will continue to be, a hotly debated topic, this comedic piece is nontheless an excellent testimony on how aerial mapping is changing the world. To view the 4:34-minute video, follow this link.
Have a great week,
P.S. Earlier this year, the head of Google Earth defended the virtual mapping program against those who blame it for aiding acts of terrorism. "I don't really think it's tipping the balance in favor of the bad guys," John Hanke, director in charge of Google Earth and Google Maps, said in an interview. "The evilness is in the philosophies and the desires of those that want to do evil. They will use the tools at hand to do that, whether it's throwing a Molotov cocktail, or shooting a rifle or using some piece of technology as part of the process." What do you think?