US Govt Asks Google Maps Why They Now Show New Orleans Pre Katrina


Looks like the guys and girls running the US government raised a good point about Google Maps. A congressional subcommittee sent a letter to Google asking them to explain why they are not accurately portraying New Orleans in Google Maps. Apparently Google Maps is using old images which shows an active, robust city that was not destroyed by a hurricane and is still trying to recover.

...a virtual trip through New Orleans is a surreal experience of scrolling across a landscape of packed parking lots and marinas full of boats.

Reality, of course, is very different: Entire neighborhoods are now slab mosaics where houses once stood and shopping malls, churches and marinas are empty of life, many gone altogether.
It was not clear when the current images replaced views of the city taken after Katrina struck Aug. 29, 2005, flooding an estimated 80 percent of New Orleans.

Google has done rollbacks with the search results before but I have never heard of rollbacks with Google Maps. Maybe somebody at the 'plex accidentally tivo'd over the current New Orleans images and the only backup they had was the pretty version.


Google is just a placeholder

Google is just a placeholder for map vendors:

Google Maps is provided under license by Navteq North America LLC ("NAVTEQ") and/or Tele Atlas North America, Inc. ("TANA") and/or other third parties, and subject to copyright protection and other intellectual property rights owned by or licensed to NAVTEQ, TANA and/or such other third parties. The use of this material is subject to the terms of a license agreement. You may be held liable for any unauthorized copying or disclosure of this material, and by using Google Maps you agree to make NAVTEQ and TANA third party beneficiaries of this agreement.

Maps Help

I'm sure they don't have much say in what gets delivered, its not like they have googlers stationed on sattelites, just an expensive mashup.

yeah, let's go after google

I mean, pardon the link drop, but look:

Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask are all out of date, as well. And Microsoft deserves some attention, because the maps at Microsoft come from...the US government.

So let me understand this. A part of the US government is ticked with a private company for not showing updated sat images when the most current images the USGS shows are from 2002?

As I wrote in our article, yeah -- all the search players seem to have abandoned keeping things in the area updated. They could and should do more (which means asking their partners to get updated images, which they can request).

But give me a break. How about that subcommittee ask the US government to use some of its own many mapping satellites to do regular shots of the area, update the USGS site and distribute the images for free for anyone to use?

This has nothing to do with

This has nothing to do with MSN, Ask, or Navtech or the other map providers. The clue is here:

Edith Holleman, staff counsel for the House subcommittee, said it would be useful to understand how Google acquires and manages its imagery because "people see Google and other Internet engines and it's almost like the official word."

The "and other Internet engines" was subconscious cover for her own lack of confidence that she represents everybody. I bet she only uses Google. And, like everyone else, she expects Google to be correct. And the politics are revealed here:

Miller asked Google to brief his staff by April 6 on who made the decision to replace the imagery with pre-Katrina images, and to disclose if Google was contacted by the city, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey or any other government entity about changing the imagery.

It's a "subcommittee on investigations and oversight". It's job is to investigate how things went and are going, and it specifically wants to make sure there hasn't been undue influence in this activity. I'm sure if the subcommittee used MSN or Ask and noticed those change back from current to older images, they'd ask them why, too.

Now why Yahoo! reported on it... that's another story ;-)

> go after google Its back

> go after google

Its back draft for branding the map service so strongly. Can you blame people for thinking google actually controls that content?

A crash course in the google business model might be in order for congress (and the rest of the world).

i thought google was

i thought google was supplying their own maps images by taking pictures from the google jet when it flies overhead?

seriously this does bring up an interesting issue about rebranding somebody else's services. i don't think most people realize that google map images are produced by other companies (navteq & tana) and also i think alot people dont realize yahoo news is not written by yahoo (in this case it was associated press).

This is what happens when

This is what happens when the Fourth Estate eats too much google cake.


Was there not a big stink right after Google Earth or Google Maps (I forget which one it was) went live that the so called 'Terrorists' would use current maps to plan attacks inside the US?

And did not google start using 18+ month old images instead of current ones because of this so called "threat"?

Looks to me like in this situation google can't win, no matter what they do.

Looks like they 'fixed' it

Accused by a Democrat in the U.S. Congress of "airbrushing history," Google said it has now replaced pre-Hurricane Katrina satellite images of the Gulf Coast region with more recent aerial photographs.

CNET: Google updates maps after Katrina 'airbrushing' incident

Google Blog post about it

I find this whole thing

I find this whole thing forboding. Public figures assuming the worst from Google, in public, and Google responding like that on a blog post.

We are a far cry from the Google Happy Public of what, 2005?

I thought Google did a good

I thought Google did a good job responding. The rebuilding of New Orleans is a sensitive issue to many people because of the loss of life and previous mismanagement.

Google provided a very helpful temporary patch in the early rebuilding stages. For some reason it was not clear to most people that it was temporary and how the Google Maps process works. Then the temporary patch no longer worked. The question was raised publicly about it and Google did a good job explaining and resolving the issue.

I personally don't assume that public figures thought the worst of Google. I think they were wondering what was going on.

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