French (Try To) Challenge Google Earth
Sacre bleu! The French have unveiled a website known as Geoportal that is intended to rival Google Earth. The European counterpart will have more detailed images than its American-based competitor, but its scope will be limited to within French borders.
It may not be off to a great start, though. Although a CNN article implies the site is supposed to be up and running, well . . . at the moment, all I’m getting is a "cannot find server" error message. Try it yourself; perhaps they’ll have it operational by the time you read this.
Assuming the site actually works at some point, its satellite images should display an impressive amount of detail. Vulgator reported in April that "50cm or even 20cm details will be visible." This should be more than sufficient for users to identify poodles; small mustaches may be harder to make out. Called "very high resolution," all of France will be covered in this manner by Geoportal. Google Earth only covers 20 percent of France in "high resolution."
The CNN article reports that French President Jacques Chirac sees the new site as "the cutting edge of modern technology." (Ahem . . . I must mention that it’s still not working for me.)
"It is also a case of economics," Chirac said. "With Galileo (the European Union satellite navigation system), with the mobile telephone, services linked to global positioning will develop a lot. It is also about democracy because our citizens have the right to know all the facts about the environment." Such as how the country’s mushroom supply is doing.
And I am happy to report that now, at 1:15 PM EDT, the Geoportal site has successfully loaded on my computer. Go, France, go.