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New York Town Uses Google Earth to Find Pool Permit Scofflaws

Pools You want to add a pool to your home, and you want it now. But you really don't want to deal with the expense and red-tape of getting a pool permit from the city, so you just skip that step. After all, the city has a lot on its plate already -- is it really going to hire pool police to walk around town and peer over thousands of fences to see if its citizens have added a pool in their backyards? I don't think so!

But Riverhead, N.Y., which is on Long Island, has found a way to use a computer and an Internet connection to strike back at pool permit scofflaws. The Associated Press reports that the town is now using Google Earth to find backyard pools that don't have the proper permits, and has already identified about 250 illegal pools. It warned violators to obtain the permits or face fines, and has collected about $75,000 in fees from its efforts. Riverhead claims that the satellite crackdown is driven by safety concerns related to pools' plumbing, electrical work and fencing.

Privacy advocates such as Lillie Coney of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington say using Google Earth in this way "reeks of Big Brother."  A representative for Google told the AP that it was not aware of any other communities using Google Earth in this manner. Personally, I'd say this is a pretty clever use of technology by Riverhead that is likely to be quickly copied by many other towns and cities.

Posted by Bruce Carton on August 6, 2010 at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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