Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

You Won’t Believe These Before-and-After Images of Sandy’s Damage

The image you see at the right is a screen grab of an interactive composite of satellite and aerial images of Belmar, N.J., showing the borough before and after it had been damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The aerial image appears with several others depicting New Jersey communities, including Keyport, Sea Bright, Mantoloking, Normandy Beach and Seaside Heights, in this story posted by the National Geodetic Survey, a division of the federal government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The “before” images come from Google’s satellite imagery division, the part responsible for Google Maps and Google Earth. The “after” images come from NOAA planes flying 5,000 feet above the diaster zone. The planes are equipped with special remote-sensing cameras that captured thousands of photos at a resolution of 17 centimeters per pixel. (Make sure you drag your mouse over them to see the full effect.)

NOAA technicians then stitched the images together and released them to the public. More flights will be done this week over New York City, Long Island and certain parts of Virginia, the agency says.

The only thing they’re missing — and something I would put in NOAA’s suggestion box — is that these images should be embeddable. Doing so would allow them to be republished anywhere, and thus be seen by as many people as possible. They’re useful not just for the emotional impact, which is significant, but also as a crucial bit of information, as people and businesses — especially commercial shippers who need to know about navigational hazards on land and in the water — plan how they’re going to get around in the days to come. They also help disaster relief efforts so that people and equipment can be sent where they’re most needed.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald