Skip to comments.Insurgents 'Using Google Earth'
Posted on 12/17/2005 5:43:05 PM PST by blam
Insurgents 'using Google Earth'
By Jasper Copping
Insurgents could be using satellite images from a popular website to mount attacks on British and American bases in Iraq, defence experts said last night.
Google Earth allows users to zoom in on almost any location in the world to such close range that cars can be recognised. The site even provides latitude and longitude co-ordinates for buildings.
Bill Sweetman, a technological warfare expert with Jane's, the military and intelligence specialist publisher, said the images could enable terrorists in Iraq to pinpoint targets inside military bases.
"Information gleaned from Google Earth can be of use to these people," he said. "They can use overhead images to get co-ordinates for a mortar attack or for a suicide bomber to try to figure out where a building is in the base so they don't get lost on their way in."
The Google Earth website, which uses free software downloaded from the internet, was launched this summer and has attracted a variety of users, from web surfers wanting to see a view of their home from space, to people searching for the hotel nearest the beach. It has also been used to help relief workers to get resources to the scenes of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
But since its launch, allied forces servicemen in Iraq have suspected that terrorists are using it, along with GPS (global positioning system) units - available in the high street for as little as £150 - to carry out attacks on their bases.
In an e-mail recently posted on the internet, a United States marine who has served in Iraq lamented how the rebels were using easily available resources. "Bad guy technology: simple yet effective," he wrote. "They use GPS units for navigation and Google Earth for overhead views of our positions."
Brian Collins, a professor of information systems at Cranfield University, said: "Coalition soldiers will have access to more up-to-date images, but websites like Google Earth give these people [insurgents] the possibility of levelling the playing field a bit. If you can locate a target on the image it will give you very accurate co-ordinates and a terrorist will know exactly where to aim a missile. If you also have a GPS then you know exactly where you are and you can sit there with your PC and look at these very high resolution satellite image and you will know where to fire your missile from and what to fire it at."
The images on the website are not live and are, on average, about 18 months old, but Prof Collins said this would not make them obsolete as an aide for terrorists. "If you were interested in vehicles, then that would be a problem but if you are looking at a fixed installation like a military base then it won't have changed that much."
The Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, who is the chairman of the House of Commons defence select committee, last night promised to look into the claims.
A spokesman for Google said it acquired the images from a number of companies and that the data was already available from these sources directly.
"We takes governmental concerns about Google Earth very seriously and welcome dialogue with governments about any concerns they may have," she added.
"Our technology is used for vital purposes such as fighting forest fires and emergency response.
"We believe that the benefits of access to the information provided by Google Earth for such valuable purposes are greater than any negatives from potential abuse."
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "Google Earth is compiled from still images that are already available from both commercial and public sources. The pictures are very dated and do not show any live activity."
there is a solution to this; take out the satellite.
Oh yes... that will go over big...
"In today's news, the US military attacked a United States corporations private imaging satellite..."
F**k the news media. Technical problems do occur.
Best part of google earth is the topless beaches.
Brand new Ford Fiestas and VW Rabbits on some pictures, no doubt.
No, the satellite data, of my house at least, is several years old.
Let's take out the terrorists.
Even the editor new this, since he put quotes around "using google earth".
Man you're sick (what are the longitude and latitude?)
yes a US media property that is openly hostile to the White House at that
have to wonder what FDR or Truman would have done
Hahaha! Good luck with that! In the early days of the Afghanistan invasion the U.S. bought up all the imagery available and had it withheld. That is why now you can get high resolution throughout Afghanistan and can't even get the same resolution in many U.S. state capitols. Same solution would work for Iraq.
The biggest threat to freedom via google Earth is local gov't and busybodies snooping for that unauthorized treehouse,pool,deck, or "project" car in the back yard.Or too big a TV antenna"why don't you get cable like everyone else and get rid of that unsightly thing on the roof?"
"Google Earth allows users to zoom in on almost any location in the world to such close range that cars can be recognised. The site even provides latitude and longitude co-ordinates for buildings."
That's sretching it. It's that way for some places but the majority is pretty low res.
I don't know that I buy the "18 month" average. My friend's apartment complex, completed well over two years ago, shows up as a construction site, and I've seen several other locations as well that are well out of date. Also, the resolution isn't the same worldwide - the resolution is high at very low altitudes around major cities, but in rural and foreign areas, the resolution drops significantly. I'd be surprised if Google Earth had any useful information on current U.S. troop sites in Iraq.
There is no single satellite from which they get these images. There are dozens of satellites from many nations and corporations. They also get much of the more detailed images from photographs taken from aircraft. What Google Earth does is georeference the images (essentially matching an image with its earthly coordinates) and combine them seamlessly so that you can zoom, pan, and tilt without noticing that you're jumping around among many separate images.
Google Earth is just getting creepy accurate.
Israel is one of the countries in lower resolution. Simple solution to these problems. Heck, even a French base in Africa is blurred out by what is jokingly called 'fog'.
I actually think the original poster you're replying to is under the impression that Google Earth is a LIVE shot of the whole earth.
I've noticed that, due to a lot of really bad spy thrillers, that people have this greatly inflated idea of the capability of high-resolution satellite images; they think there's some sort of continuous movie of everywhere at once down to license-plate viewing level that the DoD or CIA can look at.
I'm sorry, but is there any indication that any of the Islamakazis are actually doing this? They seem to be aiming their mortars by eye and setting up IEDs in known locations. They don't need Latitude and Longitude to launch guided missiles from great distance because they do not have any guided missiles.
Google Earth is just the most spectacular example of one of these tools. The truth is that there are lots of sources of useful map and photo info on the web, such as TerraServer, USGS, NASA, etc.
In my experience, Google Earth's images are a minimum of months out of date, and I've seen some that are as much as a couple of years. As a tool to spy out current military positions, it would be somewhat limited.
Also, I haven't heard any stories about the terrorists using guided munitions. They have Rocket Propelled Grenades, which are fired by eye, and mortars, using which they suck at. A GPS position of the target is maybe a bit helpful for targeting a mortar, but it's more a matter of calculation by knowing the range (which, since you're within eyeshot of your target you can figure out without too much trouble); people were accurately using mortars long before GPS was available.
Highly unlikely. The pictures that make up google earth are a minimum of 2 years old and frequently as much as 4 years old. Any data the insurgents are getting from there is intensely post dated, if that's the best they've got we've already won.
The photo of my house is less than 10 months old, because it shows my new car in the driveway.
Agreed - satellite data is years old.
There are interstate highway bridges, near the NC outer banks, a mile long that are open and complete but not on the Google Earth web images.
I only wish Google would get more detailed info on CT ... like it has on the entire state of MA, NJ, and IN. Those states are 100% in detail while most of the others are only about 10% detailed.
Google Earth's existence is not any significant threat, I really hope they don't react emotionally and yank it.
Yes, not here yet (at least, not that we know of), but I don't doubt that it's coming one of these days. In fact, I've seen stories about work to combine the live feeds of many video cameras such that you can do the same sort of thing as Google Earth: fly around as though you've operating a moveable camera. Given how thick on the ground cameras are getting, you could probably follow somebody anywhere in a big city if you combined them all.
Are you refereing to the google sat pics? I was under the impression they would allow one to zoom into a few meters. I cannot use the tool since I only have 56kb modem and do not use windows 2000 nor XP. So all I am going by is what I have heard elsewhere.
There is another way they can get GPS data which I will not mention here, but it would be more efficient than monkeying with old (or new) satellite imagery.
Depends on the location. Downtown Chicago or Atlanta, for example, have very high resolution. Other areas have much lower resolution; for fun, I once cruised over to North Korea and could barely make out individual cities. It all depends on which satellite and which picture Google integrates into the composite, and any sensitive areas are not going to have high-res satellite images in the public domain.
They probably also use computer CPU chips designed in the US. And power from power plants that the US got working after the war ended. And those power plants are probably powered by oil that American oil companies pumped from the ground. Guess we'd better shut all that terrorist-enabling stuff down.
They can get as detailed as 1 meter, but the resolution varies with the area (San Diego is 1 meter, but the desert between San Diego and Phoenix looks like it's maybe 30 meters or worse, for example), and they can deliberatly cut the resolution of any area they want, such as sensitive military areas.
Check this out, select a major city such as Las Vegas, select MGM Grand (as an example), zoom in and select "bird's eye", you can N,E,S, & W views of a building or landmark very well. (This works for my neighborhood also, views are from this past Spring.)
there is a solution to this; take out the satellite.""
Some of the blame for this mess needs to fall back onto GORE, who never found any technology that he didn't want to share with the whole world, regardless of their terrorist activities.
but but but like Michael Savage said all the terrorist shave to do now is hook up a GPS and cell phone to Google Earth and they can target amissle locked on to the phone. Now anyone is vulnerable to missile attackby the terrorists. We need to shut down Google and imprison te owners!!!!
Liek Bugs Bunny says "What a Maaarrrrooooooonnn!"
What a crock!
Does that London rag really think "Google Earth" gives a real-time view?
Mind you, the photo could be 2 years old or so, but still...
Can't find your truck, but there's a lot of creepy black eyeholes and a face right in the middle...
Hey! Didn't Al Gore invent Google Earth? I think he also invented satellites, and trucks as well as lisence plates.
"I don't know that I buy the "18 month" average. My friend's apartment complex, completed well over two years ago, shows up as a construction site, and I've seen several other locations as well that are well out of date."
The pics they have of my house are at least two years old; the blue station wagon and van in the driveway have been gone at least that long. They do have my pool, visible as a circle in the back yard. They also have my address offset about 200 yards east of where my house is actually located. With a large enough explosive device, that might be enough, but I'd not bet on it against our guys.
"....Best part of google earth is the topless beaches.....",p>
Care to share? Please name one so's I can zero in....
There are certain areas of Iraq that do not show clearly, however, it does not apply to the entire country, as I think it should.
I was able to look specifically at each of the bases I was stationed at and I was able to identify individual buildings, motor pools, etc.