Posts Tagged ‘israel’

The West Bank Archipelago (NY Times)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

06lede_map1480

[Editor’s note: “Detail from an illustration in which a fanciful map illustrates the current fragmentation of the West Bank. Areas currently under the control of the Palestinian Authority are represented as islands, divided by areas under Israeli control, represented by the sea”. Image by Julien Bousac/Le Monde diplomatique. Thanks Kellee!]

Republished from the New York Times.
May 7, 2009, 8:02 am
By Robert Mackey

This week, leading Israeli, Palestinian and American officials have agreed that the creation of a Palestinian state on territory in the West Bank and Gaza is essential to peace in the Middle East. But spend any time looking at a map of the West Bank as it is today, or with any of the many different proposals for how that map might be redrawn to accommodate the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, and it becomes clear why any sensible mapmaker might choose to steer well clear of the challenge of drawing up that state.

Continue reading at the New York Times . . .

Google Earth helps yet worries government (USA Today)

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

[Editor’s note: I was able to attend the reception for GeoEye-1 at the fabulous Newseum last week in Washington, DC. The imagery from this new satellite is truly awesome. Look for it soon in The Washington Post, and in Google Earth.]

Republished from USA Today, Nov. 6, 2008. By Peter Eisler.

WASHINGTON — The secretive National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is rushing to get the latest, high-definition satellite photos of Afghanistan into the hands of U.S. ground troops as they ramp up operations in the country’s tangled terrain.

The NGA analysts aren’t tapping the government’s huge network of highly classified spy satellites; they’re getting the pictures from commercial vendors. That’s the same stuff pretty much anyone can get, either through free, online programs, such as Google Earth, or by buying it from the same companies supplying Uncle Sam.

It’s a remarkable turn, given the warnings that security experts in the USA and worldwide raised a few years ago about giving the entire planet — terrorists and rogue states included — access to high-resolution satellite photos once available only to superpowers.

Last month, the most powerful commercial satellite in history sent its first pictures back to Earth, and another with similar capabilities is set for launch in mid-2009. The imagery provided by those and other commercial satellites has transformed global security in fundamental ways, forcing even the most powerful nations to hide facilities and activities that are visible not only to rival nations, but even to their own citizens.

Although no one disputes that commercial imagery poses threats, it has been embraced in ways few predicted.

“It’s created a lot of opportunities to do things we couldn’t do with (classified) imagery,” says Jack Hild, a deputy director at NGA, which provides imagery and mapping for defense and homeland security operations.

Pictures from government satellites are better than commercial photos, but how much better is a secret. Only people with security clearances generally are allowed to see them. Using commercial products, intelligence agencies can provide imagery for combat troops, which wasn’t possible before because of the risk of it reaching enemy hands and even international coalition partners.

Federal agencies use commercial imagery to guide emergency response and inform the public during natural disasters, such as this year’s Hurricane Ike. It’s also used by government scientists to monitor glacial melting and drought effects in the Farm Belt.

When commercial satellite photos first hit the market, “the gut reaction was, ‘We can’t allow this imagery to be out there because someone might do us harm with it,’ ” Hild says. “Are there still bad things that people can do with commercial imagery? Absolutely … but we think the benefits far outweigh the risks.”

Other nations share the sentiment. U.S. and foreign government contracts provide critical income for commercial imagery companies, such as Digital Globe and GeoEye — both of which supply photos for Google Earth.

“Most of our revenue (is) from governments,” says Mark Brender, vice president of GeoEye, which got half its 2007 revenue from the U.S. government and 35% from foreign governments. “They have a core competency in understanding how to use this technology — and a national security imperative to do so.”

In August 2006, the Islamic Army in Iraq circulated an instructional video on how to aim rockets at U.S. military sites using Google Earth.

Posted on a jihadist website, the video showed a computer using the program to zoom in for close-up views of buildings at Iraq’s Rasheed Airport, according to an unclassified U.S. intelligence report obtained by USA TODAY. The segment ended with the caption, “Islamic Army in Iraq/The Military Engineering Unit — Preparations for Rocket Attack.”

The video appeared to fulfill the dire predictions raised by security experts in the USA and across the globe when Google began offering free Internet access to worldwide satellite imagery in 2005. Officials in countries as diverse as Australia, India, Israel and the Netherlands complained publicly that it would be a boon to terrorists and hostile states, especially since the pictures often provide a site’s map coordinates.

Indeed, some terrorist attacks have been planned with the help of Google Earth, including an event in 2006 in which terrorists used car bombs in an unsuccessful effort to destroy oil facilities in Yemen, according to Yemeni press reports. Images from Google Earth and other commercial sources have been found in safe houses used by al-Qaeda and other terror groups, according to the Pentagon.

Many security experts say commercial imagery does little to enhance the capabilities of such organizations.

“You can get the same (scouting) information just by walking around” with a map and a GPS device, says John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a research organization specializing in defense and intelligence policy. The imagery “may give someone precise coordinates (for a target), but they need precise weapons … and their ability to target discrete parts of a particular site is pretty limited. People who think this gives you magical powers watch too many Tom Clancy movies.”

(more…)

Iran Missle Test Map Review (KELSO)

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Back in July, Iran tested a new class of missiles including the Shahab-3 which Tehran maintains is able to hit targets up to 1,250 miles away from its firing position. Parts of western Iran are within 650 miles of Israel.

Read more about this (old) news development at the Washington Post and NY Times, including how Iran tried to cover up the misfiring of one of the test rockets.

News media produced a wide range of maps for this event. A good map needs to:

  • show the range contour, with Israel in the hit area
  • accurately preserve distances (scale) on a
  • projected base map (centered on Iran) and
  • show an organic distance contour based on the outline of the country (not concentric circles out from a single point from within Iran).

Most of the maps below get the basic facts right (the range and what countries (eg: Israel) are within reach). Some maps presented these basic facts better than others.

Washington Post

New York Times — Not an optimal projection.

BBC – Winner for smallest map.

CNN

Wall Street Journal – Only one missile launch site in Iran?

Global Security – Good context of other rocket types. More of a data exploration map than presentation.

Paula Scher: Maps as Tag Clouds?!

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

paula scher europe

paula scher europe detail

Paula Scher has produced a series of nifty map art that focuses more on placenames than their locational placement. The placenames are in correct “relative” space but not absolute space. The names all run together in a placename tapestry where they swirl in colorful waves and eddies. Thanks Curt!

From the Maya Stendhal Gallery press release:

Maya Stendhal Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of renowned artist and graphic designer Paula Scher, which runs from November 8, 2007 through January 26, 2008. Scher expands on her highly acclaimed Maps series to create her most engaging work yet, depicting entire continents, countries and cities from all over the world that have been the critical focus of attention in recent headlines.

Through an acute understanding of the powerful relationship between type and image, Scher harmonizes witty with tragic, the methodical with the intuitive, and the personal with the universal in these new paintings. Dynamic images are saturated with layers of elaborate line, explosions of words, and bright colors creating a plethora of visual information that produces an emotive response to places lived, visited, and imagined. Scher’s maps also reflect the abundance of information that inundates us daily through newspapers, radio, television, and the Internet to reveal the fact that much of what we hear and read is strewn with inaccuracy, distorted facts, and subjectivity.

On view will be Tsunami (2006) depicting the area that was ravaged by the destructive natural force on December 26, 2004. Evoking memories of compassion and grief, the image is covered by a swirling vortex of words denoting towns, cities, and areas, which echo the violent rotation of that monumental storm. Paris’s (2007) bold blue and white péripherique rigidly maintains the city’s borders. While inside, Paris as we know it beams in a captivating latticework of blue, yellow, green, and purple exuding the city’s sense of vitality and charm. China (2006) shows a colossal landmass with cities, provinces, and roads pulsating in reds, blues, greens, and yellows. Listed above are the astounding statistics that make China one of the world’s great centers of capitalism and culture. Manhattan at night (2007) glows in deep jewel tones of purple, blue, green, and black. This enchanting quality is sobered as the median incomes of various neighborhoods disclose the very different realities of city residents. NYC Transit (2007) projects the city in intricate layers of line, text, and color that culminate with the iconic map of the New York City subway system. The major outsourcing destination of India (2007) takes form in a giant pink landmass accented with bright blue and green road markers and orange location names, which give the impression of a sign for its popular Bollywood industry. Israel (2007) presents the country and bordering countries including Egypt, Palestine, Jordon, Syria, and Iran. Text representing cities and regions is written in varying, haphazard directions communicating a visual sense of conflict and discord. Middle East (2007) segregates the area by rendering each country in its own bold color. The land’s sordid past is remembered through hatch marks and dots representing the Babylonian Empire, Moslem Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Roman Empire.

Ms. Scher began her career creating album covers for CBS Recordings in the 1970ís. She moved on to art direction for magazines at Time Inc., and in the 1980ís formed her own boutique firm, Koppel & Scher. She has been a principal at the New York-based Pentagram design consultancy since 1991, where she has created visual identities for Citibank, The New York Public Theater, and the American Museum of Natural History, among others.

Further reading:

Andy Woodruff over at the Cartogrammar blog has a post that lists other tag cloud like maps with images.