Sweden is hiding “secrets” visible from space


• Some of their “military secrets” are visible on Google Earth, but not on their local mapping sites (Hitta.se and Eniro.se).

• Google uses imagery from Lantmäteriet to cover parts of the country, and Lantmäteriet sensors some sensitive areas.
• There are two main underground control centers for Sweden’s air force; one is visible in Google Earth, the other isn’t.
• The one that is visible is because Google is using imagery from DigitalGlobe for that part of the country, and they’re not censoring it.

Stefan goes on to point out something even more interesting — historical imagery of the obscured area from a few years ago clearly reveals the facility, and the imagery was also from Lantmäteriet; they just weren’t obscuring it yet!

The bigger problem is the method of how the imagery is being obscured. In many cases, such as the Netherlands and the French nuclear plant we mentioned above, imagery is simply blurred to hide details of the buildings.



In the case of Sweden, the modify the imagery to look like fields and forests. While this could potentially help hide their secrets more effectively, it also puts into question the accuracy of all of their imagery.

Stefan shows the example of the village of Hästveda, seen below before and after the photoshopping that removed it from their imagery.



Google Earth: 3D trees added to Boulder, Denver and Los Angeles

The addition of trees to Google Earth 6 was an awesome enhancement that made some big cities in Google Earth look remarkably more realistic. While they’re rolling out at a fairly slow pace, it’s nice to see Google continue to push it out to a few more cities.

The newest cities to get the trees are Boulder and Denver, Colorado and Los Angeles, California.

The new trees in Denver are of particular interest to me. I wrote a post on Digital Earth Blog more than three years ago comparing Denver in Google Earth and Microsoft’s (then-titled) Virtual Earth. At the time, Virtual Earth looked far better than Google Earth thanks to the trees. However, Google Earth has blown way past the look of Virtual Earth thanks to the improvements in satellite imagery and 3D buildings in the past few years.

First, here’s a look at the Colorado State Captiol building in Google Earth circa 2007. There are a few modeled buildings, a handful of gray buildings, and certainly no 3D trees:


Next, here’s a shot from Virtual Earth, also in 2007. There are quite a few more 3D rendered buildings, but the textures on them aren’t very sharp. The trees are a nice touch, though:


Finally, here’s a look at the same view in Google Earth, as seen today. The buildings are amazingly sharp, and the trees look far more realistic than what we saw in Virtual Earth in the past:


This comparison helps to show why Google is taking so long between cities with the addition of 3D trees — they’re doing it right. Rather than clumps of virtually identical trees like you saw in Virtual Earth, they’re taking the time to get the right species and height of each tree. The results speak for themselves.

To see these new trees, simply search for Boulder, Denver or Los Angeles in your Google Earth search window and make sure you have [Trees] enabled in the [3D Buildings] layer.

Google Lat Long Blog

Skydiver and Touristo; Impressive games with the Google Earth Plug-in

Jeff Katz, the founding CEO or Orbitz, has recently released Travel Game, an excellent series of games that use the Google Earth Plug-in to power them.

The first game in here is called Touristo, which allows you to navigate through exciting areas using helicopters to find specific goals. The mapping, graphics and controls are all top-notch.


The second game is called Skydiver. In this one, you ride up in a helicopter, jump, and then use the arrow keys to try to land on a target on the ground.


The games utilize quite a bit of social networking, allowing you to connect to Facebook friends, send them gifts, etc, and even use their photos inside of the games. The best part is that the games will have real, free travel rewards, which should help encourage more users to play.

Beyond all else, the games are simply fun to play and make excellent use of the Google Earth Plug-in. Head over to jktravelgame.com