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Google Using Pre-Katrina Imagery on Google Maps

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the errr-huh dept.

United States 242

Thirdsin writes "CNN reports that images of lands devastated by Hurricane Katrina have been replaced on Google's map service with pre-Hurricane Katrina imagery. Now a subcommittee from The House Committee on Science and Technology has asked CEO Eric Schmidt for Google's motivation behind the imagery switch. '[Congressional subcommittee chair Brad] Miller asked Google to brief his staff by April 6 on who made the decision to replace the imagery with pre-Katrina images, and to disclose if Google was 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.' It is worth pointing out that images from Google Earth have not been changed."

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242 comments

We'll never know (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 years ago | (#18558011)

Obviously google is going to say this is because of some little technical reason, and there's no real meaning to it. Is that true? Probably, but maybe not. We'll never know.

Re:We'll never know (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558217)

Well, the pre- images are unflooded. I don't think most of the area is still flooded (though a lot is pretty grim looking), so the flooded pictures that were up for so long, while fascinating, are probably even more inaccurate than the pre- images. Really, Google should find *recent* photos, and use neither the sensationalist flooded ones nor the pristine pre-flood ones.

Re:We'll never know (1)

10e6Steve (545457) | about 7 years ago | (#18558245)

I think Google is doing the same thing Microsoft Live and Yahoo maps are doing. Live shows us a black and white map where the streets of New Orleans look like they aren't flooded. Same with Yahoo, and I suppose a lot of the aerial view mapping sites aren't real-time satellite images. So why is Congress picking on Google? Doesn't the government have spy satellites pointed at every American city that can provide them with this information?

Re:We'll never know (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 years ago | (#18558357)

I suppose a lot of the aerial view mapping sites aren't real-time satellite images. So why is Congress picking on Google?
Google used to use newer (flooded) images, then went back to older (unflooded) ones. It's not that they're outdated that's strange, it's that they went backwards.

Dependency on Google (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 7 years ago | (#18558015)

My guess is that one reason the senator cares is that his staff rely on Google to get their job done. It's interesting to see that throughout the federal government, workers are becoming dependent on various Google information services despite the fact that the govt. has put a lot of effort into building its own mapping services .

I wonder what other parts of government are dependent on Google's functionality, and what would happen if Google was interrupted.

Re:Dependency on Google (2, Insightful)

j-pimp (177072) | about 7 years ago | (#18558397)

My guess is that one reason the senator cares is that his staff rely on Google to get their job done. It's interesting to see that throughout the federal government, workers are becoming dependent on various Google information services despite the fact that the govt. has put a lot of effort into building its own mapping services.

I see this as a good thing. Lets have massive reductions in the government mapping department. Fire some unnecessary employees and make whatever raw photos and GIS data the government collects easily available to google maps and potential competitors.

Re:Dependency on Google (3, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | about 7 years ago | (#18559125)

I don't guess but am pretty sure you missed the reason for concern in the original article.

Becoming dependent on a commercial entity for providing you with data important for the ability of your democraticaly chosen government to take decisions is extremely dangerous.

When you on occasion not like the actions of your elected officials you would take corrective action at the next election, something you can't do with a Google.

Re:Dependency on Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18559137)

I wonder what other parts of government are dependent on Google's functionality, and what would happen if Google was interrupted.
I'm sure that would make some people say "Yahoo!".

Congress: STFU. (1, Troll)

faedle (114018) | about 7 years ago | (#18558025)

.. as opposed to all the wonderful help provided by the US Congress to the hurricane victims.

It's pretty pathetic that Wal-Mart did more to help the victims of Katrina than the US FEMA did, in the terms of cash and donated goods.

Re:Congress: STFU. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558177)

It's pretty pathetic that Wal-Mart did more to help the victims of Katrina than the US FEMA did, in the terms of cash and donated goods.

Are you crazy? Congress used something on the order of $60-$100 billion of your and my money on New Orleans. I don't think even Walmart pitched in that much. That's a lot of strippers and beer! All Walmart did was feed people and help them have supplies to live. FEMA gave away as many $2000 credit cards as you could stuff your pockets with!

Re:Congress: STFU. (4, Informative)

ad0gg (594412) | about 7 years ago | (#18558239)

I'm confused. You say Congress STFU and then mention fema which is under the executive branch.

your sig (2, Funny)

pbhj (607776) | about 7 years ago | (#18558579)

Do out of use (ancient) prison's count? If so, yes.

Do I get half a point for being tortured at a turkish bath in Istanbul?

Re:Congress: STFU. (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#18558373)

It's pretty pathetic that Wal-Mart did more to help the victims of Katrina than the US FEMA did, in the terms of cash and donated goods.

"Wal-Mart has given $17 million in cash, the largest corporate cash contribution to date, in addition to $3 million in products.
{USA Today] reports there are advantages to donating products instead of cash. The Internal Revenue Service allows a tax deduction greater than the products' costs..." Corporate Katrina gifts could top $1B [cnn.com] September 13, 2005

FEMA provided about $6 billion dollars in aid directly to Katrina victims Katrina fraud cases [katc.com]

Re:Congress: STFU. (1)

maxume (22995) | about 7 years ago | (#18558419)

Yes, but they weren't in the city working outside of their mandate to undo the damage that local and state efforts had done, so clearly FEMA are bastards.

Re:Congress: STFU. (1, Troll)

slughead (592713) | about 7 years ago | (#18558393)

I don't understand: I have chosen to live in a place (Arizona) with no major natural disaster issues aside from possibly wildfires and flooding.

Why should my tax dollars go to people who have chosen to live in disaster-prone areas?

Seriously: it's nice that we're trying to help out the "needy", but you're helping out people who are victims of their own folly, and you're doing it with my money. It's not charity if you're taking money against someone's will to pay for it. I'm living in this hot-ass desert called Phoenix year after year while these coastal homeowners are getting federal money to rebuild after the cyclical storms wipe out their houses.

Where's my government check for not being a burden on the rest of the country? Hey, just give me half what you gave those Katrina people and I'll STILL be saving you money. My bills are higher anyway so I can pay for my A/C.

I think it's wonderful Wal-Mart helped out the Katrina victims. It's their money, they can do with it as they please. It's probably a stupid idea to give to people just because they did something stupid, but their hearts are in the right place (probably focusing on their own PR).

Some people say that blaming Katrina victims is like blaming a rape victim for walking down that scary dark alley in the first place... But it's a little different. Imagine if there was a big sign in front of the alley that said "WARNING: Periodically, the rape squad raids this alley and rapes everything in it" and the person went ahead and built a freaking house there. That's what it's like. Rape squads; think about it.

Re:Congress: STFU. (5, Informative)

bmo (77928) | about 7 years ago | (#18558537)

"I have chosen to live in ... Arizona" ...

"Why should my tax dollars go to people who have chosen to live in disaster-prone areas?"

Why should my tax dollars go to people who have chosen to live in areas that DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH WATER TO SUPPORT THE POPULATION except through federally funded water projects?

http://cals.arizona.edu/AZWATER/awr/janfeb07/featu re1.html [arizona.edu]

STFU, really.

--
BMO

Re:Congress: STFU. (5, Funny)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about 7 years ago | (#18558747)

Hmm, I live in an area that's free of disasters, and gets enough rain.

You both need to GTFO and STFU. Give me money for not deciding to live somewhere people shouldn't be living.

And with that money, I will invest in plywood sales in Florida.. yesss..

Re:Congress: STFU. (1)

jerryasher (151512) | about 7 years ago | (#18558725)

I live in Arizona too. Here, we have the country's largest nuclear power plant and on it's most unsafe nuclear power plants. Here too, we have no water. And we also have so much sun that only Australians get more skin cancer.

So there you have it, no water, too much sun, not a whole lot of agriculture, or oil (we have to pipe in our gas), and the country's worst and largest nuclear power plant.

It's a freakin paradise and incredibly safe from disasters as well.

Mod parent down as arrogant dumbass.

Re:Congress: STFU. (2, Insightful)

beoba (867477) | about 7 years ago | (#18558935)

As a resident of Phoenix, your water supply is imported from California. Why should the "coastal homeowners" of California feel obligated to provide you with water? After all, its your fault that you live in a fucking desert, and you should be punished for it.

Re:Congress: STFU. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18559005)

For the exact same reason that your tax dollars should go for the public road in front of your neighbor's house, and not just the road in front of yours.

Re:Congress: STFU. (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#18559027)

I don't understand [...] my money. It's not charity if you're taking money against someone's will to pay for it. I'm living in this hot-ass desert called Phoenix [...] Where's my government check for not being a burden on the rest of the country? Hey, just give me half what you gave those Katrina people and I'll STILL be saving you money. My bills are higher anyway so I can pay for my A/C. [...] Some people say that blaming Katrina victims is like blaming a rape victim [..] Rape squads; think about it.
Who the hell modded that insightfull and why?

Re:Congress: STFU. (5, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | about 7 years ago | (#18559037)

"Why should my tax dollars go to people who have chosen to live in disaster-prone areas?"

You're failing to look at the big picture. The reason is because New Orleans is one of the busiest ports in the world. All of the goods we send down the Mississippi river enter the ocean through the port of New Orleans. Of course, the port is more than just long docks and loading cranes. Part of the infrastructure of the port are the human workers who actually make the thing go. All of the people who live in New Orleans provide the human infrastructure to keep the port running. That's the reason they live there -- the port needs human laborers to keep the cargo coming in. Those human laborers need places to sleep at night, places to eat, places to buy groceries from, etc. You get the idea.

The problem with ports is that they have to be on the water. We can't build ports in the middle of Montana so that they will be safe from hurricanes. Ports, which hopefully I don't need to explain are a vital part of our infrastructure, will periodically be threatened by flooding and hurricanes. As a society, we have to band together to create massive projects such as ports so we can import our morning coffee from South America and send our DVDs to Europe. You won't personally be conscripted to work on the port itself, like in the pyramid-building days of ancient Egypt, but you will have to pitch in some money in the form of taxes. Or, we could just let our ports be destroyed, one by one, after each flood or hurricane. We don't really *need* bananas from Brazil, or rice from China. But I don't think you'll find much to eat in the middle of your desert.

As a society, we did fuck up the New Orleans situation. We had a horrifically inadequate levy system. Politicians at all levels failed to bring them up to par for decades. As a society, we didn't plan ahead to protect our infrastructure, and now we are paying for it.

I do agree that if people are taking risks, such as building million-dollar beachfront homes in California or Florida, we don't need to subsidize them through taxes. However, we do need a port on the mouth of the Mississippi, and we need to make sure that that port will be manned no matter what natural disasters threaten it.

Re:Congress: STFU. (2, Informative)

Schue (1036230) | about 7 years ago | (#18559079)

A few notes... New Orleans is one of the first and largest port cities in America. The French put it there due to its convenient location between the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Ponchitrain and the Mississippi river. Moving any of those large bodies of water is fairly difficult so the original economic reasoning still stands. New Orleans is also the largest inlet for the importation of natural gas which is widely used to generate electricity (ie. for people in places like Arizona) and that's another multi-billion dollar industry. Speaking of multi-billion dollar industries... one of the main reasons that Katrina was so destructive is because changes to the Mississippi delta for things like natural gas service channels and deep shoal shipping have caused massive areas of the Lousiana swamps to die out and arode. Who cares right? Well, when the swamp dies off it takes huge stands of trees with it and those present a huge physical break that slows down a storm heading inland. Think of a hurricane as a giant bowling ball and imagine the difference between rolling it down a bowling alley or across a thick lawn. Kill off the swamps and you have a nice smooth alley heading right up into New Orleans. So before you go blaming the victim you might want to think about what things like shipping channels and energy imports have done to a community like New Orleans. Since places like Arizona would probably never support a massive inland population without energy to run air-conditioners and well pumps you could have some degree of culpability in the situation. Oh, and don't call us if you find yourself in the middle of a 100-year level drought don't come crying to us... its your stupid fault for living in the desert... dumb ass.

Re:Congress: STFU. (1)

El Cubano (631386) | about 7 years ago | (#18558413)

It's pretty pathetic that Wal-Mart did more to help the victims of Katrina than the US FEMA did, in the terms of cash and donated goods.

Walmart: Private entity; red-tape to redirect funds: minimal or non-existent

FEMA: federal government agency; red-tape to redirect funds: huge

You want FEMA to be able to act quicker? Go write your congressman and tell him to introduce legislation to remove the red-tape that slows down the government. Of course, you need to be careful. Because we are so concerned that some idiot who is only entitled to $1000 might get $1100, that we have full-time staff whose job it is to pour over the applications and paperwork and look at every little nitanoid thing.

You also have to remember that you might be considered a hipocrite (if you are a liberal) since many of the things that Bush has done to "streamline" the government are criticized with the refrain "the less the government can accomplish, the safer the people are." So, which do you want?

Good grief! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558027)

This is Sofa King We Todd Id.

Congress has nothing better to do that question Google about these images? I'm sure there must be some nefarious plan by Google to:
1) Use old images for New Orleans
2) ???
3) Profit!

Re:Good grief! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558163)

Haha I have that song! Rather interesting to see a fellow /.er like anticon stuff...

Re:Good grief! (1)

Secret Agent X23 (760764) | about 7 years ago | (#18558451)

Congress has nothing better to do that question Google about these images?
First, I'm sure they're doing other things also. Second, we would probably be a lot better off if it were indeed the only thing they were doing.

I find it hard to believe anything malicious (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#18558035)

is going on.

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, but I'd be willing to bet it was simply decided based on quality/resolution of images, and some underling working on it didn't really think about the fact that it the imagery in question is significantly different from how it looks now.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 7 years ago | (#18558243)

If I do a map of my home, in far-from-Katrina-hit Florida, the imagary is also around two years old (at least.) It's not newly replaced either, it's been pretty much the same maps since I discovered Google maps.

I'd be surprised if Google has replaced anything, if they have I suspect it was a case of newer imagery being prematurely released and then removed, not anything aimed at New Orleans.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 7 years ago | (#18558287)

but I'd be willing to bet it was simply decided based on quality/resolution of images

I dunno. The after pictures seemed to have as high a resolution as the before pics IMO.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (4, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | about 7 years ago | (#18558297)

"but I'd be willing to bet it was simply decided based on quality/resolution of images, and some underling working on it didn't really think about the fact that it the imagery in question is significantly different from how it looks now."

I'd like to take you up on your bet.

If google regularly revises its images on google maps, sometimes rolling them back in time for reasons of quality or resolution, I'd believe it. I doubt that any American would mistakenly upload old images of New Orleans, no matter their seniority or expertise, given what a giant story Katrina was. If it was a simple underling's error, why hasn't it been rolled back yet?

One factor you are ignoring is that by using old images, they have made their maps less accurate. The idea of a map is that you know where you are and what the things around you look like. Imagine they had access to super hi-rez satellite images from the 1980s. Should they use them? They *do* have higher resolution ...

Of course not! Lots has changed and been built in the US since the 1980s. You would just be creating a very hi-rez, inaccurate map. Who needs that? Who cares if you have higher-rez images of the past? You don't want them on a current map.

The fact is that the fallout from Katrina, and the fact that very little has improved two years later, is a serious blight on America's image as a first-world-nation. You expect this kind of thing in Africa or South America. I don't have any evidence for my particular interpretation, but you certainly don't have any for yours.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (1)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#18558431)

So what is your theory?

Why would they have changed them? Do you think that the city of New Orleans decided it would be better for tourism if people saw the old images, and made a clandestine deal with Google, possibly offering them money, to change it back?

I'm just having a hard time coming up with any reasonable explanation, other than basically an error.

Google has a pretty strong history of fighting attempts at marginalizing the information they serve. I can't believe they would knowingly put inaccurate information in there because of pressure from anyone. And I can't believe anyone has a whole lot to gain by having it showing out of date data.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (1)

dwillden (521345) | about 7 years ago | (#18558597)

I too find it hard to believe anything malicious. And why the hell is congress wasting their time and our money on this. Take a look at NASA's World Wind images. They also show Pre-Katrina NO.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (2, Insightful)

jabuzz (182671) | about 7 years ago | (#18558735)

The U.S.A. is the richest country on earth, yet the state of much of New Orleans is an absolute disgrace. Much of what happened in terms of immediate relief at the time was a total and utter shambles. The long term distribution of aid to those effected has also been little short of corrupt. It really is a shameful episode in the history of the U.S.A.

Thing is the current administration bears much of the responsibility, and I am sure they would like to have it covered up as much as possible. One way would be to pressure Google to remove the post Katrina imagery so Joe Public has no easy way to find out the extent of the damage, and the extent to which so little has been done to fix it.

Did they do it? I don't know but it is worth investigating because if they did it is a massive deal.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (1)

lawpoop (604919) | about 7 years ago | (#18558803)

I don't have a theory. You don't have to immediately have a theory for every suspicious event. I'm satisfied at this point to say "I don't know what happened, I think we need more facts before we jump to conclusions."

But, I do have some problems with your theory. First, I don't see any reason to assume 'accident' or 'random chance' by default. Second, I saw this story posted on digg two days ago. If google was interested in maintaining an accurate map, shouldn't they have fixed it by now? Have google's offices been closed Friday and Saturday?

The fact that they haven't repaired the error argues *against* some lackey making an error. If there weren't enough safeguards in place to prevent them from making this error (i.e. double-checking your work, peer review, timestamp checks), what's keeping them fixing the mistake? Don't they have managers or overseers whose job it is to check out changes made to the map? Aren't there some cartographers or GIS guys running around there, saying, "Hey, who put up these old images?" An organization of google's size doesn't make a product as large as google maps without layers of bureaucracy and oversight. You simply wouldn't get a decent map of the US without more than 'an underling' working on the project.

If it's so easy to make a mistake this glaring, shouldn't google maps be wildly inaccurate in many places? If google maps are fairly accurate, that means there are many eyeballs ( i.e. corporate structure and bureaucracy ) checking the work, reviewing changes, implementing procedures and code to make sure that the maps are accurate. This change would have had to pass through those checks. I can see something like the badlands of Montana being out-of-date, but the damage from hurricane Katrina? None of the managing cartographers said "Hey, these images are pre-Katrina! If we post them, our map would be wrong."

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#18559083)

If google regularly revises its images on google maps
They do, the images for my city used to have higher resolutions, but a bunch of clouds obscuring parts of it, now there's less resolution, but no clouds.

So if you see anything good on there, take a screenshot, because it might not be there next time you look.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18559291)

For what it's worth, the images of Paris are at least 1.5 years old. About this time, the théatre de l'Empire blew up, and has been entirely scrapped now. From the day of the accident, you had a safety perimeter in front of it. But it's still there, with no safety perimeter, on the Google Earth view as of today. So I guess Google just use rather old images in several places, but nobody noticed (or cared) so far.

It's latitude 48d52'37.61"N, longitude 2d17'49.36"E BTW.

Re:I find it hard to believe anything malicious (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 7 years ago | (#18558377)

Unless it is stated on Google Earth that the images are Pre-Katrina photos, then what we see is a lie. Why does Google need to lie about knowledge that is public information?

Nor I (1)

Tatarize (682683) | about 7 years ago | (#18558405)

My guess is that the older preflood images were better. They were taken before the roads were washed away and that it's easier to see what is going on if you have an accurate map of the area. To tell a person that there is a road when the image only shows water makes maps a remarkably hard endeavor. Whereas roads are a secondary effect of google maps and so the most updated pictures are clearly the best.

Who cares? (2, Interesting)

Slithe (894946) | about 7 years ago | (#18558037)

Why exactly is this the government being so heavy-handed with Google? Do critical government/health/military services depend on Google Maps? I can't think of any decent conspiracy theory, so I am not sure about this. There are certainly better things Uncle Sam can do with his time than worry about one company's map-charting policies.

The simple explanation (1)

geek (5680) | about 7 years ago | (#18558271)

Google is viewed by most politicians (mind you most politicians couldn't tell you what html is) as being the defacto standard of the internet in terms of searching, maps etc. So when something is falsified, accidentally or on purpose, they view it as their duty as protectors of the American public to step in. It's really all BS. Truth is they don't understand it so they fear it and then begin legislating it. I can't explain it any simpler. I've worked with a lot of these types in the past and if there is anything they have in common it's the fear of technology.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558497)

Because millions of people look to google for information, thier opinions on the subject will be limited to what they see. If they dont see the real katrina damage, it didnt happen.

Re:Who cares? (1)

KwKSilver (857599) | about 7 years ago | (#18558661)

Tin foil hat: Who is number 3 in internet search? What corporation has at least twice donated $1000-that we know of- to Brad Miller's election/re-election campaigns. The CEO of what major S/W companny has [supposedly] threatened to "fucking kill Google"? Well, this won't kill Google, but every little bit of slime helps. Nah, that's a little too wild. ;-)

Seriously, as for why Google did it, being a New Awlins expatriate (since 1980), I'd guess that someone in state and/or local government "finagled" enough to get Google to change it. Finagling could involve almost anything. This just has the aura/aroma of good old-fashioned has Louisiana politickin' to it. La. pollies have been involved in "dubious"real estate deals and developments as long as I can remember (back to the 1950s). In the early 1980s people in certain areas kept coming home to find smoking craters where their houses had been. Some subdivisions got built by putting a little fill dirt on what is locally known as "coffee grounds." Coffee gronds are beds of semi-decomposed vegetation of marshy/swampy enviornments, and they can be several feet thick like Maurepas Muck [usda.gov] . The houses settled ... gas pipes broke ... boom! I follow the local news from there on a daily basis which can be found at WWL (870 - AM, 50,000 watts). Nothing much has changed since 1980.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558985)

LOL
If this were about Microsoft, you'd be foaming at the mounth, spouting conspiracy theories. But since it's Google, you're foaming at the mouth trying to defend Google's diseminating disinformation (i.e. intentionally showing outdated maps). Get it through your head - Google cares about one thing - themselves. And they'll lie, cheat, and steal to meet their goals. You can believe that there's some money that changed hands that caused this foulup. And if Google's willing to use outdated maps of N.O. for an extra buck or two, who knows how may other locales also have outdated maps?

What-the? (5, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 7 years ago | (#18558039)

Are you kidding? Our Congress is investigating why google has made a change in its maps? And they're fishing for someone to start a political brawl with?

Don't we have... I don't know, something related to government services that they should be doing? Or, if it's going to be related to business, related to business that has a significant impact on consumers? Or poverty? Or taxes? Or services? Or the debt? We (as a nation) have a nine trillion dollar credit card debt, and we're worried about whether google's mapping decision was something we can get into a political scuffle about?

Re:What-the? (1)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#18558063)

I tend to agree with you that this is a waste of time....but the government actually can do more than one thing at once.

And I'm not sure I understand what you are implying they should be doing about credit card debt.

Re:What-the? (2, Insightful)

Amiga Trombone (592952) | about 7 years ago | (#18558251)

I tend to agree with you that this is a waste of time....but the government actually can do more than one thing at once.

That is no doubt true, but the question still remains - what makes this an issue requiring the involvement of government? I fail to see how it's any of the government's business what kind of images Google posts.

Re:What-the? (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | about 7 years ago | (#18558299)

I'd normally agree as a libertarian, but if, for example, the images were removed due to government pressure, then yes, it is the government's business.

Re:What-the? (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 7 years ago | (#18558483)

You don't understand PR.

It's very much in the current government's interest to make sure that the American streets in Google Maps are paved with gold. Especially in New Orleans, since focus groups seem to indicate that the public is unhappy with the appearance the city has had since the hurricane.

You want something with a bit of fluorish, like George W Bush landing on a jet carrier wearing a flight suit, or a trip to Mars or something. Maybe if enough people look at Google Earth, we can save money on all this gold and just tell Google to show different images of New Orleans, like the ones before the hurricane that actually look pretty good. You have to learn to think like a PR person.

Re:What-the? (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 7 years ago | (#18558331)

Oh, sorry: The National Debt. I meant the national credit card, which it effectively is.

(Although they should, certainly, be doing more about credit card debt than they are. Governments do have a responsibility to regulate capitalism, and many credit card issuers need to be seriously looked at. Usurious it the term, I believe.)

Re:What-the? (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | about 7 years ago | (#18559157)

"the government actually can do more than one thing at once."

I'll believe that after I see it doing even one thing successfully.

Re:What-the? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 7 years ago | (#18558481)

Hey, if the issue of flag burning and gay bashing and other distractions can win an election, we can't blame these guys for trying to find another electoral "g" spot. They're doing their best to take our minds off the real problems so we don't get upset. And the debt...well, we all know what purpose the debt serves. Like water, money has to flow, or it gets all stinky and full of algae.

Re:What-the? (1)

Cally (10873) | about 7 years ago | (#18558525)

Are you kidding? Our Congress is investigating why google has made a change in its maps? And they're fishing for someone to start a political brawl with?

Don't we have... I don't know, something related to government services that they should be doing? Or, if it's going to be related to business, related to business that has a significant impact on consumers? Or poverty? Or taxes? Or services? Or the debt? We (as a nation) have a nine trillion dollar credit card debt, and we're worried about whether google's mapping decision was something we can get into a political scuffle about?

You seem to have a naively simplistic idea of how government, the state, congress, and the political system function - and what their function is. Surely this is something most of us figure out fairly early on... around the time you first start notice politicians are making statements that affect your life, but that (a) what they say has little to do with what they do, (b) what they do has little to do with the reality of people's everyday lives, and (c) every elected politician in Washington has an income far, far above the average... you realise that what politicians say doesn't map directly to reality. You try on different models for a while - they're lying because they're right wing! No, wait, they're lying because they're leftwing! No, wait,... they're lying because they're evil fucks! Well, no, they can't all be pure evil & corrupt... it's almost as if it's not as easy as saying "here's the problem and here's the answer", getting yourself elected, then trying to get the answer implemented?

Bread and circuses, dear heart. Bread and circuses.

Most people bitching about NOLA are laughable (2)

5, Troll (919133) | about 7 years ago | (#18558047)

People aren't coming back to the Lower 9th, or any areas severly hit (Lakeview, Central City), because of a) the Road Home and insurance (receiving insurance money...) burearcratic mess, b) they can't afford to get their house up to new code, even though that coding isn't being enforced, due to lack of Road Home funding, c) because Nagin has a lot more to gain by sitting around playing the "I'm doing everything I can but nobody else wants to play ball" game than attempting to be effective and failing, and d) because they have lives elsewehere now. A-C are significant deterrents to coming back to a place when they have set up shop elsewhere. (Texas, that is not your cue to whine, Katrina 'fugees are there, get over it). This isn't even getting into the public housing debacle, which is really the issue of why people aren't coming back to New Orleans. You think all the people that wound up in the Astrodome or any of the various and sundry places they did OWNED their own houses, or had mortgates? HANO and HUD have effectively, and to my mind with blatant racism, shut out people from returning to their homes (or even getting their belongings) from structurally sound, livable high-density housing units. Google "St. Bernard Projects" to see what I mean. Their current posture is to build mixed-income neighborhoods- and I don't know how to feel about that. I really don't know if that'll be a positive or a negative. Please, spare us from the ignoramuses telling stories about how their friends bought power tools and fixed up their homes. Their homes were obviously not in decimated areas. They would have needed to haul a bulldozer down with them. And I think I'm going to take the word of a businessman who did a study determining feasability of opening a CONSTUCTION company in New Orleans as to the state of the CONSTRUCTION industry there.

Re:Most people bitching about NOLA are laughable (1)

Cally (10873) | about 7 years ago | (#18558703)

Strange but true. The ninth ward (and other badly hit areas) flooded to a depth of 9, 12, 16 feet in places and higher.

An anecdote -- which is not data. (And I just googled and couldn't find a cite for this, though ISTR it was in the LA Times that I read this.) Post-Katrina regulations for rebuilding in those areas mandate a three foot elevated foundation pile, ie the ground floor must be at least three feet above ground level.

This regulation is being cited - apparently credibly - as one factor, amongst many, that is inhibiting rebuilding and resettlement of the worst hit areas.

I'm not a civil engineer, but I get to read the "New Civil Engineer" and it's often fascinating stuff. Coastal management in the UK is now about "managed withdrawal" -- reflooding low-lying and reclaimed marsh areas, and allowing eroding coastlines to continue eroding rather than trying to protect them with seawalls, dikes and other traditional flood defences. This is a big, big, big deal: for starters, property owners who have just found that their area is now being effectively abandoned to the sea will not be getting any insurance or compensation.

I'm glad my house is on top of a hill, 200' above (but only half a mile from) the nearest river. On my daily commute I pass extensive modern housing estates built on what are obviously flood plains (this is in the Severn Valley in the west of the UK.) We're all doomed... [www.ipcc.ch]

Huh? (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | about 7 years ago | (#18558049)

Maybe I'm missing something, but the lower Ninth doesn't look like it's been flooded in my version of Google Earth. Did I miss something?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558193)

Yes, you missed the point that they're talking about Google Maps, not Google Earth.

Re:Huh? (1)

Zwaxy (447665) | about 7 years ago | (#18558515)

Try to keep up. It was claimed the Maps shows pre-flood pictures and Earth shows post-flood. The GP is saying that Earth is also pre-flood.

Re:Huh? - Example Image (1)

j-stroy (640921) | about 7 years ago | (#18558213)

I think the accurate Google Earth Service will be the one you pay subscription for. Can anyone Confirm?
I spent some time looking thru online map services, including this comparative one Flash Earth [flashearth.com] All of them look pre-Katrina to my untrained eye.

I did find documentation on a lighthouse (mentioned in news articles) which had collapsed, but was visible in Google maps.
Google Map of West End Lighthouse [google.ca]
Image of Lighthouse Documenting its Collapse [wikimedia.org]
Lighthouse Society Rebuilding Efforts [saveourlake.org]

Re:Huh? - Example Image (1)

dickeya (733264) | about 7 years ago | (#18559091)

There is absolutely no difference between the free and paid Google Earth database. The paid version renders faster, has some added client features, but the imagery always comes from the same place.

just use Google Earth (2, Insightful)

nanosquid (1074949) | about 7 years ago | (#18558055)

Who knows why they changed it? Who cares? I suspect Google management has better things to do than to sit around discussing whether to put up pre- or post-Katrina images.

Just use Google Earth if you're going to do anything GIS-related.

Re:just use Google Earth (1)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#18558103)

I suspect Google management has better things to do than to sit around discussing whether to put up pre- or post-Katrina images.
That seems like a reasonable thing for a manager within their maps division to discuss, to me anyway.

4-dimensional imagery (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | about 7 years ago | (#18558067)

Someday Google will combine satellite, airplane and ground-level imagery to give limited 3-D flythrough maps.

Add add animation for changes over time and presto you've got a 4-D map!

Maybe this is the non-working mock-up prototype???

My response (1)

Quzak (1047922) | about 7 years ago | (#18558089)

I would tell them to sod off. No law has been broken. Granted I would not make a swap like that, nor do I see the point in doing so. But there are more important things to worry about in this broken world.

Do no Evil? (1)

Thirdsin (1046626) | about 7 years ago | (#18558091)

Had Google posted a small disclaimer or notification with their maps I'm sure little attention would have been paid.

It's just very puzzling why they would make this change. There is unlikely to be any michievous plan behind the switch, maybe they were a little nostalgic...who knows? But Google's promise to "Do no Evil" springs to my mind and makes we weary of a change to "Don't get caught"

Re:Do no Evil? (1)

Edward Kmett (123105) | about 7 years ago | (#18558313)

I guess I just don't see the evil here.

For all we know it was just because imagery taken earlier made a nicer mosaic next to the other satellite imagery they had and scored higher on some resolution vs. lack of clouds vs. temporal accuracy metric and were automatically subbed in.

Re:Do no Evil? (1)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#18558535)

Doesn't evil sort of imply they had something to gain by it? What possibly could google have to gain by putting up inaccurate information? For that matter, what could anyone have to gain?

It seems obvious to me that this was some kind of oversight. Maybe they decided the pre-Katrina images were actually closer to how it looks now.

Googleearth and googlemaps the same for me (2, Informative)

Thagg (9904) | about 7 years ago | (#18558093)

I'm running the Linux version of googleearth, 4.0.2091 (beta) and the image from New Orleans are clearly pre-Katrina, and are in fact the same images used by maps.google.com (the cars are all in the same places on the roads, for instance.)

Thad

Re:Googleearth and googlemaps the same for me (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#18558433)

the image from New Orleans are clearly pre-Katrina, and are in fact the same images used by maps.google.com (the cars are all in the same places on the roads, for instance.)

Then it becomes fair to ask the question: Of what use is a mapping service if it significantly distorts the reality on the ground?

uh.... (1)

fragbait (209346) | about 7 years ago | (#18558141)

....who cares? ....this is news because? I grew up in Gulfport, MS. I'd rather see it the old way then with all the 15+ story condos they are building now.

-fragbait

Sheesh, Google Maps is worse where I live (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558147)

The area looks like a green blob, and it's missing roads that have been constructed in the last couple of years. If Congress wants to stick their nose into it, why don't they tell the military to do a one-meter scan of the entire U.S., and just give the pictures to Google? Giving a company an unfunded mandate for your own political benefit doesn't sit very well with me.

Google Earth has been changed as well. (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | about 7 years ago | (#18558153)

My Version of Google Earth (4.0.2722 Build Date Jan 5 2007)has everything along the New Orleans/Mississippi Gulf Coast damage region pre-Katrina.

It's fracking useless, guys. Nice going.

Re:Google Earth has been changed as well. (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#18558505)

Really? I'm running an older version of Google Earth (4.0.2413), and I still have the post-Katrina images over Biloxi, although New Orleans has the pre-Katrina imagery. I didn't think the version affected the images you download: the Burlington, VT images on mine have changed once since I installed this build, without any action on my part. It looks like the Biloxi image is actually newer, as most homes are still covered with blue tarp and the casino that washed ashore has been removed.

No big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558219)

Check out Chicago, Soldier Field is still under repair. This is a 2003 era picture from around the time google maps was launched.
http://shrinkster.com/niz [shrinkster.com]

Google Maps is imagery from several suppliers. No big deal. Most places don't change too much in even 10 years. It's a free service, so don't complain.
And now some busybody congressman is upset.

Visibility of streets? (2, Interesting)

instagib (879544) | about 7 years ago | (#18558237)

Perhaps they were aiming to provide better visibility of streets and buidlings, so it would be easier to find your way around.

BTW, what about date tagging for each given area (whatever size would be best, I can't guess) you see in GoogleEarth? After all, the image data gets updated continuosly, but also irregularily. It would be nice to even have a history for comparison for each area.

It's a map. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558247)

Google is just showing FEMA and everyone else where everything goes. Judging by the results thus far, they have no idea.

How could they know? (1)

Migraineman (632203) | about 7 years ago | (#18558267)


We've got to be able to get some imagery on that area, old or new. Well how could they be changing them if they don't know we're coming? ... Break off the attack, the images have been changed!

I only get cached images. Are you sure?

Pull up! All Congressional subcommittee members pull up!

???? DIGG PPL (-1, Troll)

ninja_assault_kitten (883141) | about 7 years ago | (#18558275)

Why do people even bother with slashdot anymore? If you're after news and events of interest Slashdot misses most and when they actually post them they're 1-2 days behind. HTTP://WWW.DIGG.COM PPL

Re:???? DIGG PPL (1)

clawoo (945374) | about 7 years ago | (#18558847)

ZOMG RLY? WILL DO KTHX BAI! I believe that the only thing wrong with /. is allowing people like you to post around. But that is just me. Ow wait, I have mod points. Mod me down, but I enjoyed doing this. (no I haven't modded and posted in the same thread. yet.)

WTF?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558301)

They changed the images to pre-Katrina?!?
Dammit, I want my money back!!

Oh, wait...

In other news (3, Funny)

SharpFang (651121) | about 7 years ago | (#18558305)

Get directions from New York, ny to Paris, France using Google Maps -> Directions.

Interesting...

Google is also responsible for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558309)

...the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.

Guess they've finally gone evil.

Google can do what they want, *but*... (2, Insightful)

ClayJar (126217) | about 7 years ago | (#18558333)

Google can do whatever they want, but you have to admit, it seems odd to revert to an older set of imagery. As there was nothing obviously wrong with the existing post-Katrina imagery as far as end users could tell, there isn't any obvious explanation.

While Google can do whatever they want, *if* some government agency or official asked them to revert to older maps (not that anyone would *ever* try to whitewash their pathetic failures or anything), that would be something to investigate. (We have a long history of corruption in Louisiana, especially New Orleans, and FEMA... well, there are plenty of reasons people in Louisiana hate FEMA.)

Anyway, Google did nothing wrong by reverting to older imagery, but if they did so on the request of some pathetic loser of a politician (or agency), we would *really* like to know so we can show them in no uncertain terms that we find that unacceptable for any public official.

What gave them the right to demand it? (1, Troll)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 years ago | (#18558341)

I remember way back in Music Match V6.0 something that allowed mp3 file encoding from line in. I was using it to encode my old cassette tapes into mp3 to get them into my hard disk. Almost all my friends wanted to do it and when they downloaded the latest vestion of it, some V6.x, it had been taken out. Luckily I had not yet deleted the old ftp'ed zip file and I gave them to my friends. Despite all the hassles I never thought I had the right to demand MusicMatch to put back the line-in encoding functionality. It is their product, they do what they think is the best for them. How did that congress critter convince himself that one has the right to demand google to do this and not that?

What next? Would the congress demand Intuit to put back the QIF file import capability in Quicketn 2007. (They took it out in 2005). Demand Toyota to go back to using 18 spot welds on the spare tire well of the Camry instead of the 12? Would they demand Pittsbugh Plate Glass to go back to making 0.5 inch thick windshields instead of the present 0.25 inch thick ones? Today's Car Talk mentioned it.

Isn't the refrain, "They dont make it the way they used to" goes back a long ways? I dont know about google and toyota and PPG, but definitely in congress, they dont make them the way they used to. It looks like.

Re:What gave them the right to demand it? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#18559289)

Luckily I had not yet deleted the old ftp'ed zip file and I gave them to my friends. Despite all the hassles I never thought I had the right to demand MusicMatch to put back the line-in encoding functionality. It is their product, they do what they think is the best for them.
What gave them the right? The customer is always right.
If they get enough people clamouring for them to fix this downgrade, then people less lucky then you can use it in the future.

How did it come to be that a usefull feature should be removed? Did they decide that not capitalising on their investment in feature development made good business sense? Or did some group pressure them to give their customers less digital freedom? Who gave them the right to demand it?

As a consumer... (2, Insightful)

hedgemage (934558) | about 7 years ago | (#18558343)

As a consumer of Google products, I would like the information they provide to be as accurate, up to date, and as high a quality as possible.
If I bought a 2007 Thomas Guide map book and found that the maps it contained were less up-to-date than a previous version, I'd be pretty cheesed off. If Google is going to provide maps, they should be responsible enough to keep those maps reasonably up-to-date. The hurricane substantially altered significant areas of not just New Orleans, but the coastline and delta. If they have reverted to a less accurate map, then they are providing a disservice to their customers. Error or otherwise, it should be resolved.

Re:As a consumer... (2, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 years ago | (#18558385)

Google Earth imagery is worth every penny you paid for it. You paid zero pennies for it and so at this point, you take what they give you or go use an alternative services. Both yahoo and msft are also offering sattelite imagery. Feel free to use them. But if you want to be guaranteed that the imagery you get is the most uptodate and accurate one, be prepared shell out some real money.

this is so stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558367)

If I were CEO of google, my response would be "it's my God damned company".

  land of the free and whatnot....

Why? (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | about 7 years ago | (#18558619)

Why is Congress asking them this? I just don't see why Congress should have any say in what Google puts on its own website.

just some work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558651)

I doubt it is anything.
To prove how google does stupid go back in time tricks I submit this.
google map [google.com]
That is supposed to be Chicago's Northerly Island and it is marked as so. Northerly Island was a small airport(Meigs) on the lakefront of Chicago. Our sneaky bastard mayor carved big X's in it, got in trouble, and then turned it into a very nice outdoor concert area.
Why am I telling you this story? Very simply.
I have seen the google maps images show that spot in chicago, change from meigs--->meigs with Xs--->back to orginal meigs---->consurction of northerly island--->a combo orginal meigs and meigs with Xs----> completed northly island---->and now the orginal meigs
Also, if you scroll left(ie east) you will see Soldier Field.... in the middle of the renovation construction. I have also seen google maps have a completed Soldier Field with grass on the field, but then they changed it back to the construction. I am waiting to see if they will go back even further and have the old soldier field one day.
So in conclusion. Google is Fed up. The going back pre-Katrina probably doesn't mean anything.

Perhaps they're more up to date (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 7 years ago | (#18558693)

Bear with me. I know that it doesn't sound reasonable but it is. Perhaps the Pre-Katrina maps better reflect the *current* state of the vast majority of areas affected by Katrina. Just like maps prior to the asian tsunami are now wildly out of date and ones previoius to the tsunami may better reflect the current state of vegetation and industry.

Re:Perhaps they're more up to date (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18559327)

Uh, prior and previous are synonyms.

Google Earth's images of Austin recently changed.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558751)

The Austin area has better images now - the over all color matches the surroundings better, and I think it's higher resolution, but it's not obviously newer....

ThIs FP for GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18558767)

and That the floor fucking market Hubbard and Mike FreeBSD continues Documents like a Polite to bring distended. All I Codebase became irc network. The

show land, not water (2, Interesting)

stupefaction (936750) | about 7 years ago | (#18558795)

If pre-Katrina aerial photographs are an inferior representation of the Gulf Coast geography, then isn't it also true that snow-free pictures of Montana and Minnesota are inferior? In other words, if you think post-Katrina photos would be more accurate, then you should also agree that snowed-over photos of the northern states would be more accurate. Reductio ad absurdum.

I'd say RTFA... (1)

Dorceon (928997) | about 7 years ago | (#18559045)

...but the relevant quote is in the summary.

Miller asked Google... to disclose if Google was contacted by the city, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey or any other government entity about changing the imagery.
FEMA certainly has nothing to gain from the post-Katrina imagery being visible, so if they 'asked' Google to change things, maybe that should receive public scrutiny.

Let's speculate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18559297)

Say, for instance, their post-Katrina images were obtained under an agreement which has since expired (I recall they got the images quite soon after the disaster). The obvious solution would be to roll back to the older images (which they still have the right to show), until they obtain more recent images (from their usual source, instead of from an emergencial one).

That's only one of the several possible non-malicious, non-mistake scenarios. How about speculating on which one is the right one?
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