Canary islands in a coalmine?

We’ve already heard the news that a recent dataset update for Google Earth replaced images of the Canary Islands by DigitalGlobe from 2005 with images from 2002 (or thereabouts) by Grafcan, a publicly owned local company, after an agreement between Grafcan and Google.

Though several people tipped me off about this story, I wasn’t sure how newsy it was — after all, it’s a big world, and this kind of local hiccup in the data is bound to happen sometimes. I thought the most remarkable thing about this item was that the locals seemed to be quite adamant that Google Earth should have recent imagery — an implicit tribute to the authority Google Earth has gained as geographic refence material.

I also assumed that the Canary Island’s local authorities were keen on having accurate imagery so as to attract tourists. This assumption is questioned by the local greens, however. A new article reports that the green party is accusing the authorities of trying to obfuscate the extent of recent development on the Canary Islands by feeding Google Earth old data via Grafcan. A local local green’s blog post repeats the accusations.

For the record, here are some screenshots sent in:

Before the dataset update:


After the dataset update:


I’m not taking sides:-)

6 thoughts on “Canary islands in a coalmine?”

  1. I live in Tenerife in the Canary Islands and, while I am impressed with the resolution of the images of this area in Google Earth, I can date them to pre-November 2003 and, of course, I would like to see something more up-to-date.

    That notwithstanding, I can neither see that this is the result of trickery or even what motivation the local government would have for trying.

  2. Pamela, I tend to agree — in my experience conspiracy theories almost never pan out.

  3. FWIW, the last image update of New York City had images about a year older than the prior one. If you look at the World Trade Center site a pedestrian bridge across the West Side Highway built in 2004 went missing.

  4. I think that this “downdate” in not a question of censoship, it a question of bussines. Goggle had a material, free of charge, that every people can use. A valuable material. This is a problem for Grafcan, this small (very) and public owned company: less money, less people buying photos (aerial or satellital). With the “down-date” we have now, material five to ten years old. If you like recent pics, you must go to Grafcan and buy.

    I hope Goggle returns to the “old” update , but better that the present display. The available pics now are only for historians or so, for many people are garbage, obsolete and valueless pics.

    It a disgrace for the users this change, it is a return to past.

    Best regards

  5. We are a young Canarian couple who lives in Gran Canaria. We see everyday the consequences of over development in a small region like ours. And sometimes, the environmental damages are produced with the acquiescence of the regional and local goverments. So, we believe this question is clearly an intent of hiding the reality.

    Best regards,

    Raúl and Érika

    Gran Canaria

  6. The Canary Islands are in my mind a US National Security area. I personally warned the FBI several years back that they needed to see to it that the US patrolled/monitored and secure certain geologic features on the islands. A popular documentary on the Discovery Channel or similar programming stream gave me the basis of my conjecture of the great threat that is present in the Canary Islands. I told them of the documentary and the potential threat. They took good notes. I never saw the documentary available for viewing since that time. I have full confidence that Homeland Security also has their hand in this imagery shift and that things are being veiled for the good of all who love liberty.

    May God keep us in his Peace.

    Any correspondence with me is subject to review by my friends at the FBI, however I am personally curious to view the old and new images and to compare them. If anyone has the images no longer available, please let me know and I will send a couple black helicopters over to pick up the files ~:)


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