Google Earth: An Insurgent’s Guide

British Army intelligence are reporting that insurgents in Iraq are using Google Earth to pinpoint and attack their bases. From the Telegraph:

“Anyone with the internet can sign up to Google Earth and by simply typing in the name of a location they can receive very detailed imagery down to identifying types of vehicles.”

Well, not exactly. Assuming you have very detailed data, they can tell where you parked your vehicles 2+ years ago. Google doesn’t provide live data. I suppose if Coalition (there’s still a coalition, right?) would hurry up and bring peace, they wouldn’t have to worry about aerial data catching up.

In all seriousness though, the use of tools like Google Earth are easy to point the fingers at. If GE wasn’t available, there would be plenty of other resources for insurgents to use to help target stationary objects. I would assume that there are still paper maps, and someone that can fire a mortar would probably know enough math to triangulate based on map coordinates. GPS units are dirt cheap now too.

One of the perpetual fears of having geographic and other non-spatial data publicly available is that it will be misused. It is my belief that the benefit usually outweighs the costs, and anyone sufficiently determined will figure things out without the aid of tools like Google Earth. I have trouble believing that someone decides to mortar an army base because the software made it look easier.