One of the most audacious projects ever to come out of Google was the plan to photograph and map the inhabited world, one block at a time. But a report over the weekend from federal regulators has rekindled questions over exactly what the company was doing — questions the search giant has spent years trying not to answer.
Archive for the ‘Google’ Category
High resolution imagery of sub-meter – less than 40 inches – is only available from GeoEye, DigitalGlobe, Astrium Geo, and ImageSat. It is what the stuff of Google is made of. GeoEye and DigitalGlobe represent approximately 75% of this market, and 2/3 of their revenue is tied to the U.S. government. There are lots of free, government sources of satellite imagery like Landsat, and weather satellites from NASA and NOAA, but these are not high-resolution satellites that can zoom in on your house, or support 3D modeling for engineering and virtual reality-type applications.
Read about why U.S. commercial satellite imagery is important:
In October, Apple publicly announced its acquisition of its third mapping company since 2009 when it acquired C3 Technologies. C3 Technologies is a 3D mapping technology, Apple’s second acquisition of 3D mapping, after Poly9 was acquired last year.
Although it has just been announced, the acquisition actually occurred last year and is said to be worth around $240 million. The acquisition is expected to change Apple’s relationship with Google Maps, from which it outsources technology for its GIS mapping technology. This could ultimately really change mapping on the iOS platform.
Some pundits call C3 Technologies’ mapping solutions “Google Maps on steroids,” as the video shows.
Apple said that it is working on a crowdsourced traffic database to improve its traffic mapping service and speculation suggests that they will use their mapping database provided by Placebase, another of their acquisitions. This would mean cutting ties with Google, but that shouldn’t be happening any time soon as Apple recently renewed its partnership with Google.
Last week I read the Wired Cloudline blog Beyond Google’s Reach: Tracking the Global Uprising in Real Time which talked about the search engine Topsy, which is designed to “rank people, not pages,” as Google does. Topsy is an entirely different search engine model than Google, and therefore can pick up and aggregate information from social media in perhaps a different way than Google.
A case was made that suggested that Google did not pick up tweets on the October 15th protest at Occupy Wall Street as efficiently as Topsy.
I decided to look for myself and compare the posts that have been gathered today for both Google and Topsy for Occupy Wall Street. What is interesting is that each are picking up different bits of media –
Topics for Google:
Google is picking up newspaper articles and newscasts, such as “Opinion: Occupy Wall Street is a vigil, not a protest,” New Jersey Star-Ledger, “Occupy Wall Street kitchen slowdown targets squatters,” NYPOST.com, “Occupy Wall Street in the Age of Technology”, Huffington Post, “Most Americans Aren’t Occupy Wall Street’s ’99 Percent’ The Atlantic.
Topsy has picked up the following topics in tweets: “Protesters turn their back on @ericcantor during speech at University of Michigan http://t.co/tyuLvH8b #ows ”
A trustworthy #OWS activist tells me that an influx of homeless and hardened criminals is causing major issues for Zuccotti campers
“Police use bulldozers to break up @OccupyRichmond. http://t.co/nMJW5RJw #ows ”
“#OWS has spread to 87 countries with 1,039+ distinct events. (and counting) http://t.co/wcgGqOks ”
Note that the Google search is producing articles that were published as much as three weeks ago, while the Topsy search is displaying tweets written just 18 minutes ago.
In the realm of tracking events of local or global importance, it would seem that a combination of these two types of searches would be best, so that we have well researched articles side by side with the up-to-the-minute crowdsourced view of the bystander.
On the one hand, in-depth reporting of a body of knowledge on an event is always useful in tracking history and trends, and offering insightful perspectives. What is published in newspapers, magazines and books is thought to have staying power, whereas we are not yet sure how long the impact of a tweet or Facebook post will last.
The veracity of tweets is questionable, and they are posted before anyone has a chance to check whether they come from reliable sources. When several sources convey the same message, however, it can indicate that something is really happening at a given location. Topsy can be important in tracking social movement such as the progress of an uprising or movement of a group of people. There is power in numbers, so the sheer number of people who will protest now using social media may increase because they have more confidence in doing so when they know others are of like mind.
One month into the Occupy Wall Street protest, the internet is populated with maps depicting activity around the event, not only in the U.S. but in other countries as well. The movement has inspired map makers who may have been headed in another direction, such as Humphrey Flowerdew, who along with his partner, Trung Huynh, both based in London, were originally in business to use their Crafivy to aggregate and map real estate listings.
A think tank is usually comprised of a group of people hand selected to solve a particular problem or to do research on a problem. We don’t usually open up the think tank to just anyone.
Crowdsourcing opens up a question or inquiry or research to everyone, or perhaps to a select special interest group, those who can offer authoritative data. People are drawn to contribute knowledge – whether it be of the pothole status in a given neighborhood, crime rates, weather patterns, or crisis intervention. This knowledge has very often not had a home in the past because there was nowhere to put it, or it might have to be vetted first (made into authoritative geodata) before being committed to the total database of knowledge on the given subject.