Google Maps knows all

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An episode of a recent series on the Planet Money addressed how data from cubesats is being aggregated to provide much more granular information. This is service-for-fee, of course. In academia, this pairing of remote sensing and data interpretation goes by the acronym GIS, geographic information systems. Two of my colleagues have been using it to advocate for rural populations in Sri Lanka, showing the impact of things like boat tours on subsistence fishing and aquaculture. I don’t have a thesis here, just a series of brain farts.


I guessing that they do that analysis before they blur out details like faces, license plates and some signs.


I think it happens at the same time. That’s part of how the algorithm knows what to blur out. Plus a lot of the street numbers get fired out to reCAPTCHA for humans to correct and train.


Burger King window


but some of the biggest differences are outside of large cities.

I can see my treestand from here:

…this makes AOIs a byproduct of byproducts. This is bonkers, isn’t it?

Google is creating data out of data.

Only if you’re new to the whole computer thing.


In the before time I worked for a company whose business was providing this kind of data to the government. When Google Earth (Keyhole) first made an appearance engineers at that company scoffed. They remarked that it was just “a toy”.

Who’s laughing now?

Extracting business names and AC unit locations from imagery is just the tip of the data iceberg. Clouds to dirt data is big business. Both in overt and covert worlds. Managing how that data is used is the key.

Apple and MS may be behind for now but, the data is out there for collecting. Google is in a good position just to sit back and sell or license data to Apple or MS. Why spend the time, money and effort to collect data when you can buy or rent it instead? Hello Digital Globe!


So? Isn’t all data analysis “creating data out of data”? One could even roughly define computation to be “creating data out of data.” The nervous system creates data out of data! Data transmogrification is very commonplace on planet Earth. Google creating data out of data is wholly unremarkable; it is literally what the company was founded to do.




They know I have a kitty…


long time since the early days…

foo camp way back when…


My big takeaway from this is that Apple and MS have saved time and money by using third party data, but that limits what they can do with it. Google owns everything. So while Apple gets its building data from TomTom, which is probably the bare minimum, Google knows where the windows, doors, and satellite dishes are.

Apple and MS would have to commit to a mapping project like Google’s been running for over a decade.


building footprints: Google seems to have them all, while Apple doesn’t have any.
But it’s not just Apple—no one else seems to have them either:
Only Google has buildings here.

I’m not so good at categorizing logical fallacies. Let’s call it the Apple fallacy, shall we?

cross referencing data?


it’s nice to see someone so fascinated as if they discovered the internet just yesterday. bless are those pure in heart.

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So why can’t they fix the re-routing issue on my phones? (Won’t re-route in wifi-only mode, a known issue with some phones for at least seven years.) I have a free app that does it fine.

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