Why is my home town fuzzy?
July 29, 2006 11:09 PM   Subscribe

I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. But when I try to view the town in Google Earth, the whole town is fuzzed out. Why? The Bush dynasty has long been resident in the town, and presumably some of them still live there, but ... the whole town obscured?
posted by words1 to Computers & Internet (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not sure, but I know it looks fine on Google Maps, as you can see here.
posted by travosaurus at 11:17 PM on July 29, 2006

Response by poster: Well, if you try to zoom in to even make out major streets, it says "We are sorry, but we don't have imagery at this zoom level for this region."

To which I say bullshit.
posted by words1 at 11:26 PM on July 29, 2006

Some areas just aren't important enough to have detailed photos. A fuzz line runs over my town and ends at the hospital construction area.
posted by andendau at 11:27 PM on July 29, 2006

Response by poster: Lotta rich and famous people in Greenwich. Seems unlikely.
posted by words1 at 11:30 PM on July 29, 2006

I think that the level of detail available to google maps has increased recently, so that the closest magnification is now an "11" instead of "10". In other words, when I zoom in on the very important city of Orem, Utah, I get the image resolution message at the highest setting whereas before I didn't.
posted by craniac at 11:31 PM on July 29, 2006

In Greenwich, you can zoom all the way in to the next-to-last zoom level. That's better resolution than Google Maps provides for many other spots in the U.S. The imagery for Richmond, Va. was just upgraded pretty recently to that same level. Prior to that, the entire city looked like a giant Legend of Zelda map. I never did find that last piece of the Triforce, either...
posted by emelenjr at 11:42 PM on July 29, 2006

Yeah, looks like Greenwich is using the Quickbird sattelite imagery, which usually goes to the 2nd to top zoom level. Most of Australia is covered by this imagery for instance, and I consider it pretty bloody good. I think only aerial photography goes to the top zoom level.
posted by Jimbob at 11:55 PM on July 29, 2006

Um, in google earth I can zoom to the point where I can make out individual cars. And I can in google maps as well.

Don't know what you're on about.

In order to get to the highest level I think they need to use pictures from aircraft. Only major cities and landmarks have that level.
posted by delmoi at 12:49 AM on July 30, 2006

The town isn't obscured. It looks like high resolution satellite imagery to me. There are plenty of things to worry about; The Man obscuring satellite photos of Greenwich, CT isn't one of them.
posted by Justinian at 12:58 AM on July 30, 2006

The Bush dynasty has long been resident in the town

They've long been a resident of this town, too, and that looks reasonably high-res.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:21 AM on July 30, 2006

I'm having difficulty seeing what the actual issue is here - are you under the impression that the Bush family have somehow influenced Google into intentionally obscuring a town they have close ties to? That doesn't seem like a very rational conclusion. As others have said - plenty of places do not have the resolution for the highest zoom level.
posted by ed\26h at 3:04 AM on July 30, 2006

Think yourself lucky words1: My town in the UK goes blurry from 5 levels before top quality: I can't even see what you can!

I think the case is that Google haven't got round to your town - they worry about major cities then work their way across a country. Give them a year or two and they'll get to you in time.
posted by philsi at 3:56 AM on July 30, 2006

The area of Greenwich where my wife grew up is only zoom-able to the 5th-from-the-top zoom level. I've wondered about this as well, it's much more densely populated than Cleveland or Indianapolis, other places I've lived, that have much higher zoom levels available.
posted by sohcahtoa at 4:20 AM on July 30, 2006

Once again, sohcahtoa - you're sitting in the part of the image that's only been done with a relatively cheap image, probably Landsat, not the much higher quality, and much more expensive Quickbird image. Your section isn't deliberately blurred out or anything, it has come from a completely different sattellite.

These images don't come cheap, particularly if they're licencing them for public use. They aren't going to have the whole globe in 0.25m2 resolution tomorrow, they're going to work with what they can get as they go along. And aerial photography is incredibly expensive, and only covers very small areas.
posted by Jimbob at 4:44 AM on July 30, 2006

(If Pine Gap is available to this kind of resolution, they are not trying to hide parts of a town because the Bushes happened to live there.)
posted by Jimbob at 4:49 AM on July 30, 2006

I'm not suggesting conspiracy (even if Diana Ross does live there)

posted by sohcahtoa at 5:16 AM on July 30, 2006

Have you looked at Terraserver? Their black and white images are often better than Google Earth's. My house, for example is in the same situation as your town. I think Google's decision to go with color imagery meant that there was less high detail imagery available, as others have said.
posted by TedW at 5:39 AM on July 30, 2006

It does seem somewhat arbitrary. For a while, my immediate area had the highest resolution, but there was a diagonal line of bluriness a couple miles away (in the middle of a town, no less). In the next bout of upgrading, they put the whole area in high-res. Gotta start somewhere, I guess. (Although NJ and MA seem to have some special deal going on...)
posted by danb at 5:41 AM on July 30, 2006

It is arbitrary. Which is why there's lots of different resolution images all over the place. Some states have paid to have their entire state done with high resolution. Others have not. That's it.

If you want to see what intentionally fuzzy imagery looks like, check out The Naval Observatory in Washington, DC (they also used to censor the White House and executive buildings with large blocks of a single color, but since they included new, higher resolution images for DC and the area right around it, it's no longer censored.
posted by skynxnex at 6:10 AM on July 30, 2006

Seems like MSN's live local has the same problem. Live local is awesome for areas where you can do a bird's eye view, but the images are kind of old (see here, WWII monument under construction). You can easily see individual people.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:38 AM on July 30, 2006

I'd never heard of Greenwich before this thread. There's no conspiracy. Simply put, nobody gives a shit enough to scan it that far down :)
posted by cellphone at 6:54 AM on July 30, 2006

When things are intentionally blurred, they look like this. The Greenwich images just look like they came from a shittier satellite, which lots of areas do.

(Though it does appear to be the case that Google Maps is no longer blurring the White House and Capitol. Yay!)
posted by raf at 6:59 AM on July 30, 2006

Response by poster: Well, it turns out that I'm not crazy. Greenwich has been fighting for years to prevent release of aerial maps and photos, and lost the case in 2005. And yes, they were claiming that it would make rich folks vulnerable.







Sometimes it helps to have a sister who's an investigative reporter...
posted by words1 at 7:42 AM on July 30, 2006

Response by poster: sorry about the links





posted by words1 at 7:49 AM on July 30, 2006

Seriously though, it's just that they don't have the high-res aerial photographs yet. The exact same thing is true for thousands of places around the world.

They do accept photographs from private individuals, so if you wanted to go to the trouble, you could provide them with those images, and they would put them online.
posted by Hildago at 8:39 AM on July 30, 2006

Have you tried using Microsoft's new mapping service? They have a pretty intriguing "Bird's Eye View" feature which looks like pretty high-def aerial photographs of a lot of areas. The problem is that they're often(always?) from a different perspective than the sat photos and the streets are unlabeled so it's a little harder to get your bearings.

But they are quite close and detailed if they have them for your town/street/bedroom.
posted by jckll at 10:35 AM on July 30, 2006

If you were already convinced of the answer, why ask the question?

As for your premise -- I say bullshit to that. Greenwich does not have a monopoly on aerial images of itself. Nothing stops Google (or anyone else) from getting detailed imagery from other sources, as secrecy-obsessed governments (especially India) have discovered to their dismay.
posted by mcwetboy at 3:10 PM on July 30, 2006

I live in nearby Stamford, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news but alot has changed since you left. All of the civilization and vegetation in the town of Greenwich has been leveled and "We are sorry, but we don't have imagery at this zoom level for this region." is actually tiled across the ground. We took a vote and strongly believe it is better this way.
posted by nomad at 9:09 PM on July 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Actually Al Gore is making millions from Google.

At least you have decent viewing. My town is a complete blurred mess six steps from the highest resolution.
posted by Leenie at 11:17 AM on July 31, 2006

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