A View from Tom Simonite
Seeing Infrared in Maps
Infrared imagery in online maps lets homeowners see their energy efficiency.
This Belgian site has found a way to make roofs interesting though, by adding in infrared imagery that can show the amount of heat leaking from a building. Homeowners in Antwerp can use the site to find out if their home’s insulation is the best, or worst, on the block. It’s also cool to get a sense of what it would be like to see in infrared. You can see that some areas of the city are colder than others, for example, perhaps because they are empty at the time of day the images were captured.
The infrared layer was gathered using a camera in a small plane, just as the most detailed imagery is captured for services like Google or Bing Maps today. Adding that kind of information to those mapping sites could perhaps boost the considerable efforts being made by governments at all levels to encourage better home efficiency through improved insulation. It may be the most boring of topics but insulation rather than more glamorous improvements like solar panels is right now the best technology around if you want to cut your home’s emissions. Finding a more interesting way to show that can’t hurt.
This kind of data may be freely available to anyone with the right camera, but it does come with privacy questions. Some people may not like others to see any sign of what they are doing in the privacy of their own home. Outdated information may concern others. For example, aerial infrared cameras are used by police to discover cannabis-growing operations. Having the world able to see that one likely used to be next door, or even in your building, would not be ideal if you were trying to sell your home.