““Military grade” often means “someone sold the kit to the military once”, or “someone hopes to sell the kit to the military”, or “this kit passed some vibration tests” and has no bearing on either the capability of aerial photography today, or who takes the most photographs.”
– Richard Chirgwin, “World+dog discover hi-res aerial maps, thanks to Google and Apple”, The Register, June 13 2012 (site last accessed June 19 2012)
Subtitle to the article: “‘Military grade spy stuff’, my arse.” Hehehehe.
One of the reasons I’ve started checking The Register first when I want to read up on science or technology news is not only does The Register report on new developments, they also point out when people are being idiots about new developments.
Or idiots in general, as high-resolution aerial maps are not a new development. As the article explains, aerial photos that show ground objects down to a 4-inch resolution already exist.
(Please note: showing it down to a 4-inch resolution does not mean it accurately shows an object that is only 4 inches wide. It does mean if you have a 4-inch plate sitting on your outdoor picnic table when the camera goes by — and if that plate is a color that contrasts with the top of the picnic table — then the photo will show some short of variance such that someone looking at the photo can say “there was something on that table”, but they likely won’t be able to accurately guess what that something is without other clues in the photograph to give it context.)
From the end of the article:
“In other words: neither Apple nor Google are producing anything new by way of data collection. The “new” privacy invasion, if there is a new one, concerns who is collecting that aerial data, and the uses they intend for it.”