Google and Microsoft get go ahead for more accurate maps

16 Jun 2014

A ruling by the US government regarding satellite imagery restrictions means that satellite images available online can now be even more accurate to objects as small as 50cm.

While no doubt a worry to those afraid of even greater intrusion into people’s private lives and homes, the government decision means that two of the biggest companies with mapping divisions, Google and Microsoft, will be able to capture almost the smallest of objects which have until now left areas below the 50cm threshold pixelated or unable to view.

The news comes after Google recently announced that it had agreed a deal for the purchase of another satellite imaging company, Skybox, for US$500m which is capable of producing low-cost, yet powerful, imaging satellites.

According to the BBC, one satellite imaging company, Digital Globe, is reporting that it is to launch its own Worldview-3 satellite which would be capable of capturing objects of sizes down to just 31cm including ‘manholes and mailboxes’.

Speaking of the decision, Jeffrey Tarr, Digital Globe’s chief executive, said: “We are very pleased and appreciative that the US Department of Commerce has made this forward-leaning change to our nation’s policy that will fuel innovation, create new high-tech jobs, and advance the nation’s commanding lead in this strategically important industry.

“Our customers will immediately realise the benefits of this updated regulation, as for the first time, we will be able to make our very best imagery available to the commercial market.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic