February 4, 2006

Google Earth and Terrorists

If none of you have used Google Earth, you should definately check it out! It’s free! A couple months ago I spent an entire Thursday evening playing around with it (a break from my normal Thursday night routine). The program is an extremely advanced tool. And I should know! Maps, digital data and imagery is what my agency does. The remarkable thing about Google Earth is the perspective views you can create and the 3D buildings in major cities you can over lay on the imagery. It’s a fantastic visualization tool. The number of layers you can add to your views is substantial indeed---Everything from country borders to DVD rental stores and crime statistics. You can even include the “National Geographic” layer which places yellow squares on the terrain in areas where National Geographic magazine wrote articles about. Although they only appear in Africa (I assume you can get them for other places, but you’d have to upgrade to “Google Earth Plus”, which of course costs money). There’s also a list of “Tools” that allow you measure areas and distance. There’s an enormous potentential with this program (you can even add new 3D buildings to your Goolge Earth views with this program).

Which leads me to the disscussion of the use of Google Earth by terrorists. There certainly has been some concern. and some here. and some here. and some concern here. Because GE uses high resolution 1 meter (and sometimes sub meter) imagery over not only cities, but also over miltary bases and airfields in their product, there is a fear that terrorists could use GE and it’s tool set to plan attacks on US forces. And for sure, one can easily locate ingress and egress routes from military bases and use it to coordinate attacks where every they feel the need to stick it to our troops. Try it yourself. You can zoom into real close to nearly all major cities and airports.

However, there’s many things that can help terrorists and I think the worry is overblown.

The internet is making terrorists job much easier today: I don’t need to explain to the smarter than average C-Chant readers how that’s helping!

And think of the other things that could help terrorists as well:

--Books: Millions exists with all sorts of information about guns, military tactics, bombs, survivalist living, gureilla warfare, etc.

--Maps, almanacs, and atlases: High quality maps can help plan operations.
--Shoes: Good shoes will make your feet more comfortable and allow you move fast so that you can run into an Israeli supermarket and detinate yourself.


--Digital cameras: Take pictures of places you want to attack and enauil them to fellow terrorists.

--Ipod: allows you to listen to your choice of music on the go so you can get pumped up for your suicide mission.

Blueberries: If blueberries can help all these aliments, then they can help terrorists stay healthy for “insurgent attacks” and suicide bombings.

The BowFlex: Run faster, kill quicker, carry more ammo!

If you guys are interested in more Google Earth like applications check out the list below. I've been to all these sites, but haven't investigated them all in detail; some work and some don’t, some are in different languages, and other's you may have to pay for or aren't available yet but let me know which one you think are the best for planning terrorist attacks!

1. Hipparchus
2. Mark Pesce's WebEarth
3. Lunar Software Earthbrowser
4. SRI Terravision
5. Eingana
6. SINTEF Virtual Globe
7. Celestia
8. TerraSuite
9. GeoFusion GeoPlayer
10. ESRI ArcGlobe
11. NASA World Wind
12. EarthSLOT
13. osgPlanet
14. Erdas Imagine Virtual Delivery
15. Ping 3map
16. ESRI ArcGIS Explorer
17. Microsoft MapPoint Virtual Globe
18. GeoVirtual GeoShow3D
19. Punt


Carlo Alberto said...

Hallo. About google earth, I'm collecting italian beautiful places with kmz files:
Hope you like!

Chris said...

Cute post, Ty. I love your list of "things that could help terrorists." It's a great lampoon of various governments' complaints about Google Earth.