Deep Blue Sea to Give Up Its Secrets to Google

May 17, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The leading global search engine is turning its eye on two-thirds of the Earth's surface and its underlying terrain, according to a leading official. Michael T. Jones, chief technology advocate for Google Ventures, told an audience at Joint Warfighting 2012 in Virginia Beach how two new endeavors will provide new information about the world's oceans and their users. Coming soon will be a Google Map function that tracks every ship in the world through their Automatic Identification System transponders. In a few weeks, two Google microsats will allow 1 billion users to follow ship passages around the world, including military vessels. "I as a citizen can do this, but the entire Defense Department can't do this," Jones said of this low-cost situational awareness system. Soon, the deepest parts of the ocean soon may be giving up their secrets. Google has built a small sonar buoy that is generating 5-centimeter imagery of the ocean floor in tests. As it passes over long-ignored parts of the world's oceans, it will be imaging whatever lies on the bottom. This may include the wreckage of crashed reconnaissance satellites or disposed chemical warfare drums, for example. This information would be available to anyone, and Google has opened a dialogue with the U.S. government about the sudden ubiquity of this kind of data. But that does not remove the threat of others taking the same approach. "If we were the Chinese government, we wouldn't have that dialogue," Jones points out. "If Google can do it, so can the Chinese, and they won't have that dialogue."

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