Friday, January 05, 2007

"Google Earth Goes to War". Interesting analysis of the impact this publically available database has had on military intelligence. Some excerpts:
In the last 18 months, Google Earth (earth.google.com) has revolutionized military intelligence, but the military doesn't like to admit it. By putting so much satellite photography at the disposal of so many people, in such an easy-to-use fashion, much more information has been made available to a lot more people. That includes people in the military, and those they fight.

...Google Earth's major problem was not it's ease-of-use, but the manner in which it showcased the shortcomings of the American NGA (National Geospatial Intelligence Agency). The NGA is responsible for taking the satellite photos, spiffing them up as needed, and getting them to the troops. Trouble is, the stuff still isn't getting to the troops that need it, when they need it. This was made very obvious when Google Earth showed up, and demonstrated how you can get satellite images to anyone, when they need it, with minimal hassle.

...Now the troops got access to Google Earth, and have seen what they have been missing. To make matters worse, the software Google Earth uses to get the job done, was first developed for the NGA. But the way the NGA operates, you have to worry about security considerations, and all manner of bureaucratic details. The troops are fighting a war, you say? Well, we still have to deal with security and keeping the paperwork straight. But now the troops are beating NGA over the head with Google Earth, and some in Congress are beginning to listen.