Earth observing media and environmental crisis: New Zealand 2011


  • Chris Russill University of Otago



On 25 February, Google released satellite images of Christchurch acquired days after the 2011 earthquake. Google obtained the imagery from GeoEye, a paramilitary commercial satellite company, with which it has an exclusive agreement to digitally map data transmitted from the GeoEye-1 satellite for online circulation. Disseminated globally via press release, Google included several “before and after” images of Christchurch taken March 2009 and February 24, 2011. Geo-Eye-1 images were also used on the “Google Crisis Response” page established to aid emergency response in Christchurch, with information overlain graphically on a Google Map of the affected area (depicting shelters, water tanker deliveries, operating medical centers, open supermarkets and pharmacies, payphones, and geographic areas with working electricity).