The Northwest Arkansas Times tells the story of how it came to be that two remote counties in norhwestern Arkansas have some of highest resolution imagery in Google Earth:
Once the [aerial mapping] project was completed, the University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technology (CAST) took the information and put in on a server application called Geostore. In order to get the data, interested people had to download the file and have the software that reads it. “Google Earth is always looking for the latest imagery so they contacted the CAST and asked for permission to put it on their Web site,” he said. “Now anyone can access the data from any location.”
How refreshing to see a (local) government decide that since the information was gained via public money, it belongs to the public. I wish that were the norm. Read the whole article.
[Update 17.423 UTC. Adena at All Points Blog wonders, why aren't public bodies taking over the role of keepers of such data? This raises interesting questions about trust and the role of government. Would you prefer it that a private company makes satellite imagery of your area publicly available, but only if it sees economic incentives, or that the government is responsible for doing so? With a private company, privacy issues loom, whereas with the government, censorship issues loom. Of course, governments can make laws that protect consumers from companies, while private companies can always access foreign source data that governments can't censor. So the result is an equilibrium of sorts.]