Sit at your computer and see the world

New Internet-based technology could soon turn regular computer users into armchair spies, says a Canadian inventor, reported Reuters international news service Nov. 29 in growing international coverage of Vincent Tao’s new mapping and surveillance tool. The geomatic engineer’s invention SAME (see anywhere, map everywhere) produces images so sharp that geographic coordinates typed into a Web site can reveal the make of a car parked on the street. “This is real-time streaming technology. It’s like (the online directory) MapQuest or the navigation system in your car, but three-dimensional,” Tao said in an interview. “You’ll see a globe, like a virtual Earth, and then you can fly in from outer space and zoom all the way in to a city and even to street level, which will be updated by very nice, high-resolution imagery.” Tao said the potential applications are broad, including defense, emergency response and environmental monitoring. He added that the technology could become widely available as early as next year. “Our business model is looking at how to make this publicly available.”

The Reuters story was picked up by Australia’s ABC Online and The Malaysia Star Nov. 30. And of Evergreen, Virginia, reprinted York’s news release.

CIBC slow and defensive, says Middleton

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has responded by playing the heavy in its public relations standoff with Wade Peer, the scrap dealer who was mistakenly sent faxes of bank customer information, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 30. Alan Middleton, marketing professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University, said the challenge to CIBC is particularly acute because of a rash of recent hits to its image and reputation, including its involvement in the Enron Corp. fallout and in US mutual fund scandals. “I’m surprised at the under-response,” Middleton said. While recognizing the legal risks of making a full explanation and abject apology for what went wrong, he says the bank “has been slow and defensive, rather than quick and offensive.” A statement on the bank’s Web site, which apologizes to customers and promises to do everything possible to protect information, falls short of what was needed – a detailed description of what the bank will do to make sure it doesn’t happen again, Middleton said.

Third world chicanery and first world quiescence

It is now no secret that the American presidential electoral process was one of the most undemocratic and unfair in recent history, wrote Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, in an opinion piece published on, an American-based Web site. “With widespread voter suppression and intimidation, if not downright fraud, there is little reason to accept it as legitimate. As instances of pervasive and systemic electoral irregularities have surfaced, I have often heard it being described as third world chicanery,” she wrote. “To many in the third world, the story of the US elections appears not only as one of third world chicanery, but also of first world quiescence. Why are there no largescale public protests against this election, even when there are excellent grassroots efforts which are attempting to challenge it?”

On air

  • Krista Scott-Dixon, researcher and instructor in York’s Women’s Studies and School of Social Sciences, talked about the barriers for women working in information technology, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Nov. 29.
  • A Global TV interview Nov. 28 with James Laxer, political science professor in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, on the possibility that US President George Bush would lay out a timetable for reopening of the US border to live Canadian cattle on his visit to Canada, was also aired on Global’s “Moneywise” and “Global News,” and on City-tv in Edmonton Nov. 29.