Menu
US government OKs sharper satellite images

US government OKs sharper satellite images

A long-standing restriction has been lifted to usher in better quality online mapping

The U.S. government has lifted a long-standing restriction that meant companies like Google and Microsoft didn't have access to the most accurate pictures taken by imaging satellites.

Until this week, satellite operators like DigitalGlobe were prevented by law from selling images to foreign or commercial organizations in which features smaller than 50 centimeters were visible. The restriction was meant to ensure that foreign powers didn't get access to satellite images that were too good.

But now that's changed. DigitalGlobe said it has received approval from the U.S. Department of Commerce to sell sharper images to its clients.

That immediately unlocks pictures from its GeoEye-1 satellite, with a resolution of 41 centimeters, and Worldview-2 satellite, at 46 centimeters, but much better pictures will soon be available.

The company's Worldview-3 satellite can see features as small as 31 centimeters and is due for launch in mid-August from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The government has said DigitalGlobe can sell high-resolution images from that satellite six months after it enters operation, which would make them available sometime in the first half of 2015.

The sharper images will mean more than just better quality online satellite pictures. Companies like Google and Nokia automatically process such images to help build accurate online maps and there is a host of uses outside of the Internet industry including agriculture, disaster relief, mining, transportation and civil engineering.

The announcement came in the same week that Google said it would buy satellite imaging start-up SkyBox Imaging for $500 million.

SkyBox says its SkySat satellite can capture images at "sub-meter" resolution, which probably means they are not as fine as DigitalGlobe's pictures.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGoogleMapsU.S. Department of CommerceSkybox

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments