_applyChinaLocationShift: In China, national security means that all the maps are wrong

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Can we just datalog the raw NMEA stream from the GPS chip, then cross-correlate it to the photos timestamps and recover the exact location?

Also, matching of maps to structures and street layouts could be done this way if we datalog also the accelerometer/gyro data and do some dead reckoning and correlation.

Could be a nice way to crowdsource data for the inverse transformation matrix to apply to the “legal” maps to convert them to good maps.

Because fuck Chinese government and their pettiness. We the People have the right to accurate GIS.



Soviet Union used to do the same thing. This of course led to ludicrous moments such as the following: My father’s co-worker went on a business trip abroad (a pretty uncommon thing back in 1980s USSR, mind you). While there, he bought a good, high-resolution map of the Moscow region, and brought it to work to show off. His boss saw it, asked to borrow it, and… next thing he knows, it’s got a “secret” stamp on it, and must be signed out from the office safe whenever he wants to look at it.


People don’t realize that maps are one of the major elements that control the world: Everything, from survey data for resources, growth and depletion, movement of mappable stuff…knowing and tracking these things grants great power to nations, megacorps and kings.

In past eras, the powers-that-be used maps to determine what was owned, what wasn’t, to lie and obfuscate the truth for economic/political gain and even edge out neighbors, one new map at a time by adding or removing land and measurement from the charts.

Now that everyone can easily have an accurate map, that power is slipping away.


What exactly is the point to this? I thought it was some level of understanding (or at least implied pop culture reference) that since at least the 80’s the major world powers had satellites that could get pretty high res photos from Earth orbit. So this is just for the common man who now can’t find a land mark because all the maps are wrong? And it’s not like you can’t do recon and actually study the real world target if you intention is to do harm…


The CIA doesn’t matter - if it’s not on Google maps, it doesn’t exist.

People are missing out then. There are so many out of the way kick ass places in rural America don’t barely so a blip on Google Maps.

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The Survey of India will refuse to sell maps with a scale better than 1:250000 in “border” areas, which is defined as about half the country. Top secret, you see…

Ironically, I can get 1 arcsec resolution DEMs from ISRO’s CartoSAT (one series of which I’m actually working on right now).


It never really did. Back in the early web days before maps were easy to do online and such when the Air Force finally bought the ridge overlooking Area 51 to keep the ufo nuts with binoculars out Popular Science ended up getting good satellite photos of the area from the Russian embassy for like 5K. Always depends on who you ask for the info.


Or we can just blur them…

Reminds me of when GPS had Selective Availability enabled. As if 100 meter errors would totally save a target from some rogue nation’s nuke. :slight_smile: (To be fair, decent countermeasure for conventional weapons.)

For those interested, here is a good analysis of the errors in the GPS system, including time dilation due to both Special and General Relativity as well as Sagnac Distortion… pretty cool, really.



I think you’ve got it backwards. In Google Maps (etc.), every point has equal weight. The blip in Nebraska is the same size as the blip in Manhattan. You can see topography; for example, to realize that the Effigy Mounds in Iowa or the Black Hills in South Dakota are well worth visiting.

Sounds like you might be interested in reading William Least Heat Moon’s book on respecting a rural blip on the map: PrairyErth: A Deep Map.


Shhhhhh. There is no reason for anyone with a smart phone to go anywhere near the Dakotas. Shhhhh!

No, they’re awful awful awful. And nobody should ever see Crazy Horse. It’s the worst place ever. And Devils Tower is a conspiracy of cartographers and PR men, it’s a special effect from some old movie. Wall Drug is this tiny old mom and pop, and the corn palace isn’t even edible. What a waste of time! Stay far away! /s

eta: the jackalopes are pretty cool though. I’ll give them that.


Does this mean when you’re sending out invitations to a party or a wedding you can’t include graphic directions to its location? Are construction surveyors all government employees? Are paintings and photos of houses allowed?


Apparently, OpenStreetMap remains accurate in China due to manually tracing public satellite imagery as well as “illegal” amateur cartographers.


At last, an answer to my query here.

Edit: Although I’m still mystified as to why Google’s Map and Satellite views are still misaligned. I’m looking at their view of Tiananmen Square right now, and their map of the streets are shifted roughly 100 metres north-west compared to the satellite photos. Considering that the photos have to be stitched together anyway, why aren’t they stitched together to conform to the map?


If it was the CIA, a Topps bubble gum cartoon would be stamped secret and put in the safe.


Not CIA, but this was a controlled-access R&D institute that developed, among other things, high-strength polymer windshields for jet fighters.

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It’s illegal to possess them too. So if you, say, want to go hiking in the Himalayas, tough luck, you’ll need to get your hands on an illegal (Swiss) topo map.