Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

'Shot boy visible on Google Maps'

Google says most of its overhead images are about one to three years old, although it tries to update them regularly.

A man in the San Francisco Bay area of California is appealing for Google Maps to remove an aerial image which shows the body of his 14-year-old son, who was shot dead in 2009.

Jose Barrera told KTVU-TV at the weekend that he became aware of the image of his son Kevin earlier in the week. He said he wants Google to remove the image out of respect for his son, but it is not clear whether he has asked Google directly to take it down.

"When I see this image, that's still like that happened yesterday," Mr Barrera told the news station. "And that brings me back to a lot of memories."

The image shows what appears to be a body on the ground near a railway line with several other people, presumably investigators, and what looks like a police car nearby. It was visible on Google's website yesterday, and the company has said it will remain so for a few more days.

"Since the media first contacted us about the image, we've been looking at different technical solutions," Google Maps vice president Brian McClendon said in a statement.

"Google has never accelerated the replacement of updated satellite imagery from our maps before, but given the circumstances we wanted to make an exception in this case. We believe we can update this in eight days, and we've spoken to the family to let them know we're working hard on the update."

Kevin's body was found on a path near railway tracks that separate North Richmond from San Pablo on August 15 2009. His murder remains unsolved.

Police believe Kevin was killed at the spot the night before his body was found, said Richmond Police Sergeant Nicole Abetkov. They have not established a motive for the murder or identified any suspects.

Google says most of its overhead images are about one to three years old, although it tries to update them regularly.

Google Maps also provides a street view function which allows people to tour areas as someone passing through them would. Street View displays images that have been gathered by Google using cameras mounted on cars, tricycles and even snowmobiles.

Some of the images have raised privacy concerns, though Google says its technology automatically blurs car number plates and people's faces. It also allows users to report concerns about the images.

There is, however, no similar reporting feature for overhead imagery, according to Google.

AP

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