When you look at a Google map, what you are actually seeing is a map made up of hundreds of pieces of mapping, all spliced together. When these maps first became available, the government was very concerned that terrorists would be able to use the maps to identify sensitive infrastructure so they censored any piece of mapping that contained such buildings. The result was something that looked like this.
Very smart. Nothing like hiding those sensitive areas. Might as well of put a big “bomb here” sign on it.
Because I am a government worker and use mapping in my job all the time, I was eligible to obtain these missing pieces for my Town. In order to do so I had to submit an application, my social security number, my driver’s license and be fingerprinted. Seriously. But I apparently cleared the security check because 10 weeks later I received the missing digital pieces. About 12 weeks later the government realized how stupid they had been and included all pieces of the maps for public use.
This week I met with the owners of one of these sensitive sites because they are going to make some improvements. I reviewed with them what the process would be and told them what plans would need to be submitted. Then their lawyer opens his briefcase and hands me a 1 inch thick document. Apparently they cannot give me any plans until I comply with the mandates as outlined. First I need to go through another security check. Then I have to provide a secure location in which to file the plans. Secure as in locked in something they have to approve. And they have to approve everyone who will have access to the key. Then I have to swear on my children’s lives that I will never, ever show the plans to anyone who does not have proper credentials. By this time I am looking at them like they have lost their frickin’ minds.
Now if they were giving me plans for a missile silo or a nuclear power plant, I might understand. But no, all they are adding is some office space for addition computers. What are they so concerned someone might see, you might reasonably ask? Where the water and sewer lines go into the building. Seriously. I guess because the terrorists might clog the sewer and force them to use a port-o-john?
If these guys weren’t all in suits and looking all lawyer-like, I would of thought I was being set up for a practical joke. But they were dead serious.
These are the people in charge of our national security.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.