Photographing Every Building Everywhere

from the ambitious dept

If you thought that Barbara Streisand got bent out of shape over someone photographing her house from public airspace as part of an effort to document the entire coastline, just imagine how lots of people will feel about some random van, covered in digital cameras, roaming through their neighborhood, snapping pictures of everything, to create a giant photographic database of every building in the US, connected via GPS location info to satellite photos for the view from the sky. The idea is to then offer this database to insurance companies and police to use in appraisals, investigations or... well... to spy on what your property looks like, I guess. There have been similar projects, though on a smaller scale. There was one such project a few years ago where you could tour Manhattan in pictures. Photographers had literally taken thousands of photos at street level in Manhattan and connected them to let you take something of a virtual tour of the city. In the meantime, the folks working on this "photograph every building" project should team up with those researchers in the UK who wanted to create a building recognition system that would let you snap a photo of a building with your camera phone, and have the phone immediately tell you where you are. Of course, you could also see the technology being useful for services like online mapping applications, where they could give you not only turn by turn directions, but also photos of specific buildings or landmarks where you should turn. Whether you think this is cool or creepy (or possibly, both), it sounds like the company is still a long way from actually bringing this to market.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2004 @ 10:25pm

    OQO reference

    I found the article much more interesting for the OQO reference. I've been waiting 2 years for that damn thing!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Mike (profile), May 25th, 2004 @ 11:24pm

    Re: OQO reference

    We've written about the damn OQO enough. When it comes out *for real* then we'll write about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous, May 26th, 2004 @ 4:21am

    Low tech vans already exist

    There are already vans for hire that drive around and video tape streets, then turn those into digital photos.

    Wake County, NC hired such a company years ago to create photos of every building for their tax records then made it public on their website. It's not tied to GPS for easy access, but enter a street address here...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Ben Sinclair, May 26th, 2004 @ 7:16am

    County Assessors

    As the previous comment noted, county assessors have been doing this for years. My county and most others in my state have web-based databases with aerial photographs, curb-side photographs, and lots of other information about every property.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    NOBODY, May 26th, 2004 @ 12:39pm

    No Subject Given

    This technology could have useful implications, if it was kept up to date. Can you imagine doing that though? They would have to be running around with picture vans all the time to not only take pictures of new buildings, but update their existing database. Even if they could do this, which would be logistically challenging, they would have to keep a running tab on Every construction and real estate project in the US, probably conservatively every month. And what about the hard to get to places like celebrities who deliberately make their houses hard to get to, and the cliff houses of Arizona? How would you even classify those? What about the boonies? You mean to tell me they're going to take every back road in every nowhere town? I always look stupid when I say it's not possible. But I don't think it's likely to be a very complete database for very long.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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