Google Releases Olympic Satellite Imagery

    August 1, 2008

Starting one week from now, all eyes will be on Beijing.  Yet if you can’t wait for coverage to become inescapable – or want a different view than the ones most reporters can provide – Google Maps and Google Earth have been updated with fresh pictures of China.

"[S]ome of the new imagery is less than 2 weeks old!" announced Matt Manolides, a geographic information system (GIS) specialist, on Google’s LatLong Blog.  "Some updated areas include Beijing, Tianjin, Shenyang, and Quindao . . ."

Those spots feature several impressive-looking structures that are presumably for Olympic use.  More good news: we didn’t come across any half-finished buildings, and there wasn’t any sign of overpowering smog.

Manolides hinted at the progress made on that last issue by adding, "Everyone on the imagery team is very excited to make this data available to you just before the start of the games; it’s very hard to get good satellite photos of Beijing due to clouds and other atmospheric conditions, but our partners GeoEye and DigitalGlobe pulled through and were able to get us some really amazing shots."

So go and have a look at where the world’s best athletes will be competing in another week’s time.  One note about the image quality: it is quite good, but don’t expect to spot even the largest of any wandering weightlifters.