After conducting some more analysis concerning Google’s censorship of Washington, DC, I discovered a possible reason as to why the older imagery is being used….. 3D Buildings
Google has another feature they invested their money into: LIDAR. LIDAR allows for 3D models to be created of the built environment. While I am not 100% sure that Google used LIDAR to create the models, but it would probably have been the easiest route. I have scoured the net for conclusive evidence that Google used LIDAR to create the 3D buildings but have not found a conclusive website that says so.
Regardless of this lack of citation regarding LIDAR, in Google Maps, when looking at Washington, DC using the basic map (without aerial or satellite imagery) the buildings in the 2002 imagery show up as 3D models:
Thus the area that has not been updated is the same area where the 3D buildings are shown. Notice the area north of S street features the new imagery, while the area south of S street features the old imagery.
This means that Google chose to keep the old imagery in place because building models would not have matched up….
Yet this simple conclusion is not good enough for me. The area that features the buildings is one that does not change much over time. Many of the buildings and landmarks have not changed in over 100 years (the screenshots feature the Westminster neighborhood which was developed in the 1890s), but conversely there has also been quite a bit of construction throughout downtown Washington. So at the expense of having a few 3D models being incorrectly drawn for a couple buildings, DC residents are given outdated aerial photography to use.
Moreover, Google would be doing a secondary service if they decided to update their servers. Instead of just showing the most recent imagery of Washington, DC they would also be giving DC residents an opportunity to see the change in the built environment in the last 3 years.
Regardless, I still feel that Google is censoring DC by not updating the imagery. The 3D buildings are not as important as the newest available imagery.
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