Google’s historical satellite imagery for India has disappeared, and a spokesperson from Google responded by stating that they are currently reprocessing some of their historical imagery. They reassured that the imagery will be made available again later this year.
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Satellite historical imagery of India over the past two decades has disappeared from Google Earth. This has been noted by many scholars and researchers who rely on the service for tracking changes in topography, forest cover, urbanisation and history.
Satellite imagery from 2020 is only available for locations in India. The difference is stark when satellite historical imagery of Amritsar has been scrubbed clean, while Lahore, Pakistan — which is about 50 km away — has historical imagery available over the past few decades.
“We are reprocessing some of our historical imagery in the Historic Image database of Google Earth Pro 7, and plan to make imagery available again later this year,” said a spokesperson of Google when this reporter reached out. However, questions whether this disappearance of data is linked to policy norms or government of India diktat were unanswered.
“It looks like it just India — the historical imagery is still there in Pakistan. I was planning to work on my research this summer, and comparing imagery year to year helps me see details that you’d never see walking around at a specific point in time. The imagery from specific years — pre-2020 is sometimes much better than what is available now,” said Robert Simpkins, an anthropology professor at Porterville College who has done extensive research on Hyderabad’s history.
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