Google Maps improving European coverage

Yet another Google story, sorry. It looks like Google Maps is finally upgrading the resolution of satellite photos and adding street maps for some major centres in Europe, which began with the coverage of Torino (Turin) for the Winter Olympics. While Rovaniemi obviously doesn't count as a major European centre yet, there are higher resolution satellite photos and street maps for Jyväskylä (unfortunately covered in snow and cloud) and Savonlinna. The street layer in Finland now includes the highway network, as well as the names of different city neighbourhoods (kaupunginosat). More interesting from an academic perspective, is the resolution upgrades to several key areas of the Kola Peninsula. Last year I put together a Google Maps mashup for students on my annual excursion to the Kola showing points of interest like military installations and heavy industrial pollution. The interesting this is that the new high resolution images are concentrated in military sensitive areas instead of Murmask, by far the region's largest city. Unfortunately these images, too, were taken in winter so have low light, snow and cloud cover. But the area around one of the biggest naval bases (Nerpich’ya, Nerpa and Olenya) near Polyarny is quite clear, with naval vessels and nuclear storage facilities readily visible. But Gremikha is probably the most obvious evidence that these locations were chosen for military purposes (at some point in their history, not necessarily by Google). Thousands of square kilometres of barren Arctic coast and tundra, and there just happens to be several very high-res images of the area around one of the Northern Fleet's biggest nuclear sub bases? Not that I'm complaining. This is way cool.

Posted on April 25, 2006 and filed under Finland, General, Software.