Boston tragedy and GPS coordinates

The recent events in Boston and Watertown kept me glued to the News channel. If you want to be mean, call it voyeurism, though I consider it more a form of empathy with the innocent victims, coupled with the unexplainable urge to be present when public history is made. There are very few such moments in my life, Apollo 11, the birth of my son, Challenger and 911, moments which one will never forget where you were when it happened. I feel that Boston, as tragic as this event was for some, will most likely not get a permanent place in this short list.

In todays age of social media and transparency, every piece of information is archived and distributed, and most importantly, it can be cross referenced. With some keystrokes on your computer, you can be very close to actual events.

This thermal image was taken from a helicopter was released by police, showing the terrorist hiding inside a boat on private land in Watertown next to Boston




Interested in everything nautical, I entered the GPS coordinates in Google, more to see how accurate it is…


Watertown, a couple of miles west of Boston.



… and zooming in while switching to satellite view, there is the boat trailer during better days, not knowing what drama will unfold around him a few month later.



I am not saying I approve or disapprove this complete transparency, I am sitting on the fence here, but today we all should know and understand the massive change this electronic transparency represents. The clock can not be turned back.


And the live feeds you ask? They exist today via helicopter for local authorities and some TV stations, and more robust via drones or satellite for the more international and very secret stuff, though even today you can find atomic power stations in Iran and nuclear test sites in North Korea via Google Earth.

Maybe it just a question of time for a “Google Live Satellite Feed” or a “Google Live Streetview CCTV feed” to be released for public consumption.


One Response to “Boston tragedy and GPS coordinates”

  1. As I work in Lexington MA and one of my co-workers was at the finish line when the bombs went off, and a rider friend of mine lives in Watertown and watched the goings on from his window, this is very close to home for me, both figuratively and literally. But as your blog suggests, not only is the world getting smaller, it’s more intimate in how we experience it. While this might not be on your list with 911 (God rest the many souls lost) I still would encourage everyone to donate to, The people with missing limbs have a lifetime of medical needs and recurring expenses as prosthetics need replacement regularly. Thanks for this post.

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