Monday, August 2, 2010

Google Earth Used To Find Unlicensed Pools

Can you say Big Brother? A Long Island town is using Google Earth to locate unpermitted pool and throw hefty fines at the property owners. According to this article  they have found approx 250 pools and collected about $75K in fines.

Revenues are down so these government busybodies find new and creative ways to stick it to the people.  I am reminded of the police our town has park under every bridge on a little-traveled freeway, running their A/C on 101 degree days, attempting to collect from anyone who pushes the speed limit. Crime is up, we have a rapist on the loose and a gang of smash-and-grabbers who are taking on car windows in the broad daylight---but where's the revenue in catching them?

I digress. I've found Google Earth a little spooky since I first played with it and looked up a friend's apartment Serbia. Now it is being used to invade what little bits of privacy we may still have. It was only a matter of time before the government found a way to use it to their advantage (in the private sector, we would call someone a crook for using Google Earth to extract money from others).

I imagine it won't be long before Google Earth is used to find unpermitted additions, non-ecofriendly landscaping, windows that don't meet energy standards, etc.


  1. Good post once again, Kristin. See why we all ned your warm fuzzy posts on a regular basis? Otherwise we'd all GO MAD!! (pun intended)

  2. "I imagine it won't be long before Google Earth is used to find unpermitted additions, non-ecofriendly landscaping, windows that don't meet energy standards, etc. "

    There is no such thing as privacy and there is no such thing as 'it won't be long'.

  3. when we got past 1984, we all had a sigh of relief, but always knew this day would still come. how sad. Did Orwell only see the trend or did he help control-freaks with a blueprint?

  4. Time to move off the radar screen and into a cave with absolutely no disernable evidence of an address.

  5. The thought has crossed my mind...

  6. Interesting info although they're watching more than that, that's what census workers were doing everyone thought 'was nutty conspiracy', mapping every home in America with GPS...

  7. I'm gonna advocate for the devil here. Not that I'm happy about this...but...

    The Constitution prohibits Big Brudduh from unreasonable search, seizure, etc...a man's home is his castle...yada yada yada.

    There is nothing as far as I can see that prohibits gubmit agencies from observing what we do in public. From red-light cameras, to public surveillance cameras on the streets, to Google Earth, etc. I hear people cry "Unconstitutional." (BTW, you did not throw that card, Kristin. I'm just saying that I read that a lot) But, they are really not. They are just a technological pair of eyes that observe the comings and goings of humans. I don't like them all, but new technological tools aid law enforcement all the time.

    And, if someone builds a pool in an observable place, and fails to permit it...well...they should not if it violates local ordinances.

    I know from working around it some, that in many cases, permits are actually a good thing. Sure, some of it is just a revenue generator, a foolish waste of time, etc. But, I have seen many dozens of homeowners get shafted by a contractor, or build things themselves that were truly hazardous to themselves and others that a permitting and inspection process would have saved many dollars, and possibly lives.

    In most cases, the permitting/inspection process is good for everyone involved. Again, not always...but usually.

    If homeowners don't like the fact that a permit is required to build a pool, then they should lobby their local officials to ease, or drop the requirements...not just build one anyway without proper permits just to avoid the hassle, taxes, etc.

    Like I said...advocating for the devil on this one.

    Just my two cents.

    Don't hate me. Please.

  8. Andy, it's just that there is no end to it. My story from yesterday is about Google working with the CIA to snoop on our internet comings and goings. Pretty awful and that's an activity we do "at home". I think they should need a warrant to search for these things. The Constitution says so.

  9. I don't hate you for it, Andy and I appreciate the discussion. :)

    But I don't have to like the method in which the government is using Google Earth either.

    I don't think a man's backyard is public. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating unpermitted swimming pools or the elimination of reasonable building standards. However, in some places, it is so difficult to get permits and the requirements are so onerous (think most of CA), that people just have to do what they are going to do and hope they don't get caught.

    Red light cameras, cameras on every corner of every reasonably sized city, unwarranted reading of our email, geo-tracking and now spying on us from outer-space...just when can we have any reasonable expectation of privacy anymore?

    Oh I know, when we want to kill the unborn. That's about it.

  10. Lookit, Opus, and Kristin...

    I completely understand!!!

    COMPLETELY! There does seem to be no end to it.

    And, I think we are all coming to grips with the FACT that this has been a long time coming. As we all know, we need to do all we can to turn this Titanic around before impact with the berg that kills us all.

    For most of my adult lifetime, we have just been rearranging the deck chairs.

    It is certainly a daunting task ahead of us, but our children will curse us if we do not do our very best.

    Thanks for not hating me.

    Your friend,

    the devil's advocate

  11. Andy, are you a building inspector??

  12. Kristin, I saw this story, and was appalled. I totally agree that this is something out of 1984.

    And while I think Google Earth is neat, I also see the spooky implications of it.

  13. Hi Betty Ann! LOL!

    No...just a do it yourself guy that has seen some cuh-razee unsafe junk done by other DIY guys.

    Thanks for the chuckle.

  14. Nice find, Kristin.

    I keep hearing how nice Big Brother is going to be. Funny how the only people who say that are those that can use Big Brother to get money out of us.

  15. I agree with Andy - permits are important, but sometimes some municipalities get goofy with them. My town has a requirement that if you want to put up one of those kid's play-tower climbing things, you need a building permit - for a tool shed. A tool shed permit requires a concrete slab, so if you build one of those play-towers, it has to sit on a concrete slab. DERP right there.

    I would agree with the 'Big Brother' assessment if Google Earth was running in 'real-time'. If you've got it, go check out something in your area that's changed within the last, say, 3 years, and see if that change is on Google Earth. I checked my home and there's an image of a car in our driveway which we haven't had for 3 years, and a major intersection was rebuilt 2 years ago and doesn't show up.

    Based on this, I certainly hope that town's building inspectors actually went out and physically checked to see if those pools were still there, rather than relying on Google Earth's images.

  16. What was bad is good. What was good is bad. What is the meaning of "is"?

    What chance do we (individuals) have if technology continues to advance faster than our moral compasses? And how do we have a viable discussion if our "representatives" do not/will not listen to the side that says privacy and individual rights must not be ignored just because snoopers look at you through drawn window shades, or by using long range telescopes, or sattelites in space? (This is all invasive regardless of scale.) And what about governmental expansion of power (Patriot Act) that can now exclude due process?

    I believe the public has already spoken out about much of this when we elected politicians on the promise of transparency. Yet all "they" do seems to be done in secrecy and all "we" do could be deemed public, even on/in our own property.

    I try really hard to see "they" and "we" as one people. Somehow that just doesn't seem to be the case in the world of today.

  17. RE: The Watcher,

    Google Earth does run in real-time IF YOU PAY FOR IT, which means our tax dollars are paying to spy on ourselves!

  18. Christopher, I did not know that. My experience with Google Earth was similar to Watcher's.

    When I locate my residence, it shows a detached garage that was blown away by a tornado about 2 years ago, and in the driveway there is a truck that one of my sons owned so far back that it brought back good memories...even though it's been so long ago that I can't remember when it was that he owned it.

    My oldest son moved to Offutt AFB about 6 months ago, and he gave me the address. I decided to Google Earth it. There was NOTHING on the plot of ground. NOTHING! After quizzing him, he told me that the house had been built about two years ago, so the Earth Maps probably hadn't been updated since before it was built.

    So...I did not know that there was a "real time" version of Google Earth.


  19. good grief girl!..big brotha indeed!

  20. RE: Andy,

    Yes for around $400 per year, maybe not exactly real-time yet but close,,,

  21. Thanks for the heads-up on Google Earth, Christopher. Of course, if the local government says they're using it to collect unpaid fines and taxes, I'm sure the current Administration will chip in for the $400 a year.