Town uses Google Earth to find unpermitted pools

The Long Island town of Riverhead is using Google Earth to spy on anyone who might have constructed a backyard pool without permits.

I have a thing about busybodies. They never seem all that busy to me. Unless stooping to snoop into other people's lives can be called busy work.

Now I am not entirely sure that the town criers of Riverhead, Long Island, New York, can be classified as busybodies, but I still feel a little shiver at their reported behavior.

You see, according to MyFox New York, the town's official representatives are most fascinated with whether the wily and sometimes dubious residents of Long Island have installed swimming pools in their backyards without necessarily securing all the appropriate permits. So they logged on to Google Earth and, well, snooped around.

Riverhead's no doubt honorable Chief Building Inspector Leroy Barnes Jr., told MyFox New York that his concern was that people might have installed pools that had poor wiring or plumbing, or fencing that might show too much of their flabby paunches to their neighbors.

Well, he didn't quite put the last part that way, but I inferred a certain potential puritanism with respect to fence dimensions.

Pools are things of beauty. Does beauty really need a permit? CC Pasa47/Flickr

Perhaps you, too, are also inferring a certain drive to increase the income of the town's authorities. Barnes Jr. declared that 250 permit-free pools had been identified thanks to Google's hearty invention. Those who were caught with their pants down but their swimming costumes up were required to secure a permit pronto or face fines.

You will feel as if a rogue wave has suddenly washed all over you when I tell you that the town has reportedly earned $75,000 through this enterprising Google Earth scouring. Now that's what I call a screen saver.

What was not documented, however, was whether any of these pools were actually unsafe. Though one wouldn't want to be excessively libertarian, one does wonder where the boundaries of Google Earth snooping might be drawn, especially on the part of officialdom.

This is not, however, the only pool problem that has been created by the existence of Google Earth. I am told by those who luxuriate in Los Angeles that those who have need of a pool vacuum--a rather expensive, but vital, piece of technology--have been lately less inclined to buy them.

Instead, some allegedly scour around on Google Earth, locate the presence of said object and, well, sneak into the backyards of the drippingly munificent and steal them.

We put fine technology into the hands of people, but we can never be sure what kinds of people they are and how they might use it. You might think such a thing every time you see someone behind the wheel of a BMW.



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