On the heels of acquiring satellite startup Skybox in August, Google and Skybox have announced the Skybox for Good program, which will provide real-time satellite imagery to organizations and programs that save lives, protect the environment, promote education and positively impact humanity, according to the official blog post.
The program launches today in beta with a small group of partners. The images provided to these organizations will be publicly available under a Creative Commons license.
This will allow organizations like Sky Truth and Appalachian Voices to keep an eye on “mountain-top removal mining,” which threatens to devastate the forests of the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia. Another example given in the announcement was images of a Northern Sri Lanka village called Nagarkovil, which were given to HALO to help them verify that the area was safe, after previously removing land mines.
The initiative comes from the Google Earth Outreach team, the main goal being to give extra knowledge and resources to nonprofit organizations that need help in telling their stories or achieving their intended missions.
While the program will undoubtedly benefit its nonprofit partners in their quests for a safer, happier, healthier world, it’s also an interesting juxtaposition that puts surveillance (at least at the satellite level) in a positive light. That’s a problematic proposition, considering what the revelations the past couple of years have brought us with respect to privacy.
In any case, you can check out all of the currently available images from the program on this map.