Google Earth As A Tool For Terror

Google Earth as a Tool for TerrorI was sitting in a basement a few years back. I was in a computer lab waiting on class to begin when someone asked me if I had heard of Google Earth. I thought to myself and decided that, no, I had not heard of Google Earth. So I looked into a little bit and found that it was similar to some other navigation software I had played with here and there. But when he told me to click on the ‘satellite’ button my mind was about to be blown away.

I clicked on the satellite button and an image of the city I was looking at was right there in front of me as if I was in an airplane looking down on the city I was shocked. I was nervous. I was excited. I was scared. I was giddy.

So I looked a little bit further into it and I could zoom in to about 100 feet above the location that I had typed in. I was starring at a Wal-Mart parking lot trying to pick out my neighbors cars. Class began and I closed the program and thought nothing more of it until a few days later when I came across it again.

This time I wanted to get a little creative. So I typed in my address to my family home in Brazil, Indiana. Sure enough, right there in front of me, was the street I grew up on. And not only could I see my mom’s car in the driveway but I saw something else that caught my attention as well. I picked up the phone and dialed my mom right away.

She answered the phone and the first thing I said before she could get a word in edgewise was, “So, the fence around the pool is crooked.” She laughed and asked me what I was talking about. I told her to move to the computer and I would show her. She did, and as it takes her weeks to figure out where the power button is, I continued to play. I “drove” Google Maps to the park that I played in. I drove it to the gas station on the corner. I drove it to the post office. I was having a blast. When my mother finally got to the computer I sent her the link and she was about as confused and excited as I was when I first discovered the program.

Google Earth now is using such high end cameras that you can see details so clear you can zoom in on a basketball in a driveway and read the writing on the ball. They have also introduced Street View that allows you to literally drive around neighborhoods and see things from a first person angle. And Braden Jones (project manager at Imavex) has discovered the newest addition in Airplane Mode where you can go to your favorite airport (is it possible to have a favorite airport) and actually see what it is like to fly a plane around the world.

But is Google Earth all what it is cracked up to be? I mean, I have a maps feature on my phone that is not linked to Google Earth and it does just fine. But according to the officials that are investigating the recent attacks on south Mumbai, terrorists used Google Earth to learn streets, escape routes, and to plan their attacks. Of course, they are stating that the terrorists used other technologies like GPS in their phones, satellite phones, etc. Now, why does this matter?

It matters, and to me more than anything at this moment, because if there are people in other parts of the world that are on this planet for the sole reason of eliminating other people and they have access to this technology, and proven usage of this technology, then no one is safe. I am not safe. You are not safe. No one is.

But people will sit there and say, “No one would ever want to attack Indiana.” Yeah, maybe you are right, but if they did, not only can they find out where Indianapolis is, they can jump into street view and drive right up to your front door. This is a free technology that one of the biggest companies in the world strives on. Just think what other potential is out there. It gets a little scary when you think about it.

(By the way, and based on reports that I have read, Google is stating that these locations that were in the plan for attack in south Mumbai can be found just as easily on Mumbai maps. Yeah, that might be true, but can those maps you buy at the corner store allow you to change your angle and see traffic updates? I didn’t think so.