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30 de Marzo 2007

Google Shows Pre-Katrina Photos for New Orleans

[UPDATE 2-April 1400: see the release of new imagery for New Orleans.]


New Orleans in Google EarthThe recent update to the imagery for Google Earth has caused a bit of an uproar. According to the GEC and my sources at Google, the imagery for New Orleans was actually changed last September. The previous imagery was directly after the storm struck, and was of inferior quality. Although the imagery of New Orleans is from pre-Katrina now, it is of better quality. If you have the Plus or Pro version of Google Earth you have the option to load two sets of post-Katrina imagery by logging out of the primary database. I think Google should consider getting more recent high quality imagery for New Orleans so it at least represents the present condition.

Apparently, Google selected a new set of high resolution photos for New Orleans. The only problem is that the new images are pre-Hurricane Katrina. So, all the damage that was caused by Katrina has now been erased in the Google Earth/Maps imagery database. CBS News says this move has sparked outrage and conspiracy theories in New Orleans. Ironically, the people in New Orleans have been some of the biggest fans of Google Earth as it helped save lives during and after the disaster. And, up until the recent update, residents used the pictures to illustrate damage to insurance adjusters, and to plan reconstruction efforts. Some of the conspiracies are that the local government itself requested the change to try and encourage tourism to come back to New Orleans.

In my opinion, Google should probably have considered the implications of such a change before releasing it in this fashion. Google could easily offer a layer which allows the new or old imagery to be shown. Perhaps this would be a good compromise. Surely, Google still has a copy of the old imagery. Actually, many GE enthusiasts have suggested it would be nice if Google offered a time selection capability on imagery so you could watch the evolution of a place over time from aerial photography.

Enviado por FrankTaylor at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 11:23 AM

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  • Comentarios

    We've been talking about Google showing pre-Katrina map images over at Highbrid Nation. I'm gonna wait and see before I cry out comspiracy but its looking very suspect.

    Enviado por: Evorgleb at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 11:48 AM

    I suppose if they were attempting to seek out a reaction in the practices of data redaction, then judging by this post and what others have been commenting - they've succeeded in raising such a debate.

    Look at the bright side.

    Enviado por: Daniel at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 01:00 PM

    Business is about creating profit. Would Google remove the imagery if it was not to turn a profit in some way shape or form? Perhaps Google should re-evaluate the select few within their corporation that are willing to throw global citizens out the back of the boat.

    Enviado por: jpwade at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 02:36 PM

    Enviado por: billy at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 03:36 PM

    I would love to see a time-series feature in Google Earth. I have spent hours overlaying old (1930s) aerial photos myself.

    Enviado por: ryan at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 04:15 PM

    Does the link below to Google Earth Help Center issue topic address the conspiracy?

    Irony at its best?


    Enviado por: Frank at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 04:16 PM

    I'm hoping that Google will make a "Tour of New Orleans" as part of the Google Global Awareness project. In the same way that the "Appalachian Mountaintop Removal" layer allows viewers to learn about a variety of featured spots in West Virginia, it would be invaluable to see the damage overlay, and to see where each of the recovery projects is or isn't taking place.

    Enviado por: Isaac at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 04:51 PM

    not a conspiracy...i wish people didn't wear their tinfoil hats so darn tight!

    Enviado por: tp at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 05:35 PM

    Just got this news release from the House Science Committee:
    (Washington, DC) - Rep. Brad Miller, Chairman of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Science & Technology Committee, today asked Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to explain why Google had changed its satellite maps of the New Orleans region to pre-Hurricane Katrina images.

    "If current Google Maps satellite imagery is to be believed, Hurricane Katrina never struck New Orleans, there was never any flooding and thousands of people do not need to be living in trailers because their homes are still habitable," Miller wrote.

    According to news reports, Google Maps had been showing post-Katrina satellite imagery until recently, but suddenly it began to show images of an undamaged Gulf Coast. Chairman Miller questioned this "resurrection" of New Orleans, and Google's inability to explain why these changes had been made.

    "New Orleans is a great American city struggling to recover from an unprecedented disaster. Google's use of old imagery appears to be doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history," Miller wrote in his letter asking for a briefing next week to discuss the reasons for Google's actions. In particular, he asked if anyone had asked Google to make the image changes.

    Enviado por: John Fleck at 30 de Marzo 2007 a las 06:01 PM

    Does anyone have proof that Google satelite maps actually had the Katrina images. Go to google satellite maps of Ethridge, 75056. This is a suburb north of Dallas. See all that excavated dirt northwest of the road. That has been completely built out w/ houses since 2000 - 2002 timeframe, it's my neighborhood. Clearly, outdated satellite imagery on google is not out of the ordinary.

    Enviado por: bill at 31 de Marzo 2007 a las 02:46 AM

    Perhaps Google should show pre-9/11 images of Manhattan, with the World Trade Center intact.

    Enviado por: Ashley at 31 de Marzo 2007 a las 04:23 PM

    i would like to think if i use google earth i would get the latest pics available not 1865 or something they think i would like to look at will not go there from not on bye google hello terra

    Enviado por: R. Davis at 31 de Marzo 2007 a las 09:21 PM

    I'm saddened by this. I was a great fan of Google Earth. I'll need to contemplate this further before reaching too strong an opinion. Off the top, I feel this just shows that Google isn't above censorship. I've used G.E. many times to look at my home in Diamondhead, MS. Both before and after Katrina.

    This whole idea that they went because of better quality photo's is false. My home is now of no better resolution than before, in fact the imagery is old enough most of my neighbors homes aren't even there. It's only from before Katrina, that's the only difference, and way before at that. This is very sad to me.

    I guess I just held Google Earth at a standard that they couldn't meet. I knew of the pressures from the government to falsify certain locations for "security" reasons, but this is nothing more than a political statement. This is censorship in my opinion.

    Maybe if they pretend Katrina never happended it will just go away?

    I was there, I lived it. Katrina.

    Enviado por: Rich at 31 de Marzo 2007 a las 09:34 PM

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