[Fwd: Neighborhood Watch??]
Sat, 13 Jun 1998 16:25:01 -0400
> SPY SATELLITES FOR YOU
> By Michael J. Martinez
> June 11 -- At this very moment, an orbiting satellite could be right over
> you, taking pictures of your city, your neighborhood ...even your house.
> And soon, your neighbors, friends -- and enemies -- will be able to download
> those pictures on their computers.
> No, this isn't a conspiracy theory. Microsoft has teamed up with satellite
> image provider Aerial Images Inc. to create TerraServer, a massive online
> catalog of satellite images from around the world scheduled to hit the Web on
> June 24. And some of those images might be of your favorite places.
> "It's a great opportunity for people to see their neighborhoods from a
> different perspective," says Gary Tao, project development manager for Aerial
> Opportunities For Everyone
> The project is a great marketing tool for both partners. Aerial Images gets to
> show off its high-resolution satellite images, while Microsoft will be touting
> its latest server technology. For the rest of us, satellite pictures could be
> used to scope out a nice place to live, check on crops or just gain a new
> perspective on terrestrial life.
> The name TerraServer has a double meaning. The SQL server will handle 1,000
> gigabytes of data, more commonly referred to as a terrabyte. That's the
> equivalent of 694,445 floppy disks -- line them up end to end and they'd
> stretch on for 38 miles. And, of course, there's "terra" as in Earth, which
> will show up in the black-and-white, high-resolution photos.
> Where did Microsoft and Aerial Images get all this satellite imagery? Part of
> it is from the U.S. Geological Survey, which routinely takes satellite images
> for scientific uses. The rest comes from the Russian Space Agency's
> SOVINFORMSPUTNIK program, designed to make Russia's space capabilities
> profitable in the international market.
> Aerial Images recently sponsored a satellite launch in April, and plans to
> continue launching Russian satellites every six months. Those April photos
> will be the ones available online starting this month.
> Microsoft's Mega-Site
> So how much information will be available when the site goes live? Tao says 2
> million square kilometers (772,200 square miles) worth of images will be
> accessible. That's sounds like a lot, but in total area, it's only about the
> size of the southeastern United States. The first images are focused on urban
> areas around the world, Tao says, with more imagery coming as film is
> developed from upcoming SPUTNIK launches.
> On the TerraServer site, you can click to zoom in on various images, such as
> famous buildings or your own neighborhood. That's possible due to the number
> of photos taken during each satellite pass.
> Because each image on the site contains a number of "tiles," and because the
> site is expected to generate thousands of visitors, the demand on the server
> will be intense -- a perfect test .
> The Market For Satellite Images
> The sale of commercial satellite imagery isn't an entirely new endeavor.
> Living Earth Inc. has been selling full-blown satellite images and animation
> of the Earth since 1992. Living Earth's images have been widely used by
> weather map creators, news organizations, and movies such as Deep Impact and
> There are other companies that selectively sell localized satellite images.
> The difference here is that Microsoft and Aerial Images is are showcasing
> their wares on the Internet.
> But how profitable will this enterprise be? Living Earth Inc. thought about
> getting into the commercial market, but didn't have the resources needed to
> make it profitable -- something Microsoft doesn't necessarily have to worry
> "Most of the public-domain data is 10 years old," says Erik Bruhwiler, vice-
> president of Living Earth. "I think the expectations will be too high and
> people will be disappointed. They better have their e-mail servers ready once
> they launch."
> Trimming Overhead, So To Speak
> Aerial Images, which started its business serving municipal governments and
> big businesses, says the low cost of its downloads -- $10 for a 1 and a half;
> square-mile image -- will make the venture commercially viable. And with the
> frequent Russian missions, the data will be relatively fresh.
> "We believe there's a lot of interest out there on the part of the layman,"
> Tao says. "We'll get enough interest because it's a unique product."
> So be sure to keep your backyard tidy. You never know who's upstairs watching.
> Copyright (c)1998 ABCNEWS and Starwave Corporation. All rights reserved. This
> material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any
> Transmitted: 06/12/98 16:58 (webcont2)