Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Google Maps works overtime to remove satellite image of dead teen's body

As reported by the Huffington Post, on Monday afternoon Google announced something it has never done before: accelerating the replacement of updated satellite imagery from their maps before. The reason Google is doing this is unique, as well: the current aerial photograph shows the body of a 14-year-old boy, who was shot and killed on Aug. 14, 2009.

The body is that of Kevin Barrera. The image (above) shows what appears to be a body on the ground near a rail line with several other people, likely the authorities, and what appears to be a police car nearby. The image is still visible on the Google Maps website on Monday, and the Internet giant has said that despite its best efforts, it will remain so until early next week.

Google Maps Vice President Brian McClendon said, in a company statement issued on Monday afternoon:
Since the media first contacted us about the image, we've been looking at different technical solutions. Google has never accelerated the replacement of updated satellite imagery from our maps before, but given the circumstances we wanted to make an exception in this case. We believe we can update this in eight days, and we've spoken to the family to let them know we're working hard on the update.
Eight days would translate until about Tuesday of next week, just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

The boy's father, Jose Barrera, told a local TV station:
When I see this image, that's still like that happened yesterday. And that brings me back to a lot of memories.
Google said that most of its aerial imagery is about one to three years old, although it tries to update them regularly. That explains the inclusion of a 2009 image on its Maps site.

Google confirmed that while -- as we have reported before -- it allows users to report Street View images that they feel cross the line, there is no similar reporting feature for overhead imagery.

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