They say that the images that we see on Google Earth / Google Maps “Satellite” mode are anything between 1 to 3 years old, and for some places on Earth, even older. Even though Google constantly strives to get latest updated high-resolution images for everyplace on the planet, factors like cost and availability sometimes pose as constraints to achieve the goal. But we have little complaints. What we are getting is more than what we had hoped few years back. We get to see the planet – streets, building, rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts, oceans and continents – from the luxury of our desk or lap! We get to see the real thing. We get to fly around and zoom in and out – virtually everything a bird may desire (and even more – not all birds can fly at an altitude of 10 km!), except for attending nature’s call while flying above someone’s head on real time. And since arrival of Wikimapia, we get to even put names to places we know – so that the world can see which is “my home” and where was “my kindergarten school”!
I was just flying over my home today – for the umpteenth time. It takes me in closer proximity to my childhood place vertically, than I am horizontally right now. Since the day Google enhanced their stock images for Indian suburbs and given us higher resolutions for seeing streets, buildings, ponds and railtracks, it was a charm to see one’s own house in obscure towns in obscure districts of semi-urban and rural India. Since the image is always a couple of years old, it feels like taking a flight in a time machine – you can still see the ponds that were filled up and old heritage houses that were bulldozed to construct flats, owing to the recent promoter-culture, perhaps uniquely infamous in semi-urban India. It’s still too high up to actually see images of people, bicycles or rickshaws – but one would like to hope that perhaps that day is not far when on a certain frame – till it would get refreshed with newer images – one would be able to see a friend or a relative frozen as they were crossing the street. An image from a year back, taken from hundreds of kilometers above, not caring about privacy 😉 and openly out in the internet for the world to get a glimpse on – that would be the day (someone please zoom in on Paris Hilton’s house!). Is the Google-bot reading this? Tell Sergey please.