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Pictometry

As the name implies, pictometry is an off-shoot of standard geometry and defined to be "digital, oblique aerial imaging." That is a mouthful, inaddition to being the proprietary licensed name of a company who owns this technological advance.

It is like aerial photos of land areas taken by satellite...with several novel exceptions. First, the photos are taken by low-flying Cessna 172s criss-crossing the United States in a grid pattern. Second, the landscape is photographed at a 40-degree angle from about 2000 feet in the air. Third, because of this oblique view, the photos show much more than the top of objects....they will show objects (e.g. house, street light, fire hydrant, etc.) in their entirety.

As a mathematics teacher, this new advance gives you a great chance to talk about oblique angles, digital mapping, horizon line-of-sights, scale measurements, etc. Go to it...

And, you can give students a flavor of the power of pictometry via the "movie" images on the company's web site ....

According to the company's literature, the primary users of pictometry will be 911 dispatching centers, homeland security and emergency management agencies, first responders, engineering firms, community planning agencies, and transportation departments. yet, Microsoft has worked out a financial deal so that the pictures will become accessible on-line this summer to all users...for a fee (e.g. a picture of your home for $3).

My concern seems obvious. On the Pictometry web site, we find the words: "See Anywhere, Measure Anything, Plan Everything." Is this the type of visual information we need accessible to anyone (even the supposed terrorists), freely available on the Internet via Microsoft. Something seems wrong here (ala Gene Hackman and Will Smith in the movie Enemy of the State)...and it is not the geometry side of things!