Norway Rejects Apple's Request for 'Flyover' Photography of Oslo

Apple has run into trouble in Norway completing its 3D "Flyover" views in Apple Maps. The government of Norway is denying Apple permission to photograph the capitol of Oslo over security concerns, a problem not faced by competitors like Google that rely on satellite imagery.

The image below compares Apple's Flyover imagery for Oslo and Copenhagen, Denmark, which does allow Flyover photography.

A Tale of Two Cities

Apple Maps Flyover views

At issue are security concerns in Norway after Christian crusader Anders Breivik planted bombs at a government building in 2011 and then went on to massacre 69 victims at summer a camp for kids. That event hit Norway hard and sparked a reexamination of security at government and military facilities similar to the way the 9/11 attacks by Al-qaeda sparked changes in U.S. security policies.

One of the results of that process is stricter controls for high resolution aerial photography over government and military facilities. Øyvind Mandt, acting director of Norway's National Security Authority (known locally as the NSM), told (via Google Translate) Norwegian publication Aftenposten:

We do not want it to be shooting with such a high degree of precision that can be used to identify areas that require special shielding. Photo shoot[s] with this level of detail can provide knowledge about the safety measures that [we do not wish to be known].

The country allows satellite photography in that it can not stop it from happening. Norway also allows some local companies to take aerial photography in the capitol because it can control the results.

Norway is not alone in limiting aerial photography access to sensitive areas. Aftenposten noted that the U.S. doesn't allow flyovers of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the Pentagon, and other security-sensitive areas. Mapping services routinely obscure these areas from processed satellite imagery, as well. try searching for Area 51 in Nevada and see what you come up with.

China doesn't allow foreign mapping services to do much of anything, meaning that companies like Apple must work with local mapping services that are strictly controlled by the government. Apple specifically works with AutoNavi.

Handheld GPS technology has long been a bugaboo for security services, and the advent of readily available and comparatively inexpensive satellite imagery only compounds the issue. The images above show that Apple uses flat-2D imagery in Oslo where it can't perform its Flyover photography flights.

But the issue isn't going to get any better from the standpoint of the security world. GPS will become cheaper and more prevalent, and so will access to all kinds of technologies that eventually lead to inexpensive high resolution imagery being available for almost everywhere.

In the meanwhile, it's hard to blame Norway, the U.S., or even China for trying to control what they can while they can.

[Via the BBC]