Site map
0The virtual community for English-speaking expats and Russians
  Main page   Make it home   Expat card   Our partners   About the site   FAQ
Please log in:
To register  Forgotten your password?   
  Survival Guide   Calendars
  Phone Directory   Dining Out
  Employment   Going Out
  Real Estate   Children
   September 23
News Links
Business Calendar
Phone Directory
 Latest Articles
 Archived Articles
Analysis & Opinion
10.08.11 Russia In Pixels
By Tai Adelaja

Until now both Google and Yandex seemed unchallengeable in their aggressive push to provide millions of curious Russians with satellite snapshots of places and neighborhoods. But that may be about to change, though the challenge, this time, appears to be coming from a most unexpected quarter: the Federal Agency for Registration, which is the Russian state agency in charge of cadastral mapping. The agency, which is better-known by its Russian acronym, ROSREESTR, said it will soon be veering into the slightly less familiar territory, after receiving a nod last week to create a database of very high-resolution satellite images of Russian cities, settlements and farmlands, the Vedomosti business daily reported on Monday.

The order, recently signed by Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina, gives the agency the necessary powers to create an online digital archive to replace the lower-resolution images the agency currently keeps on its Web site. Officials are touting the project as an effort to help Russia modernize its urban planning and construction inspection systems through a more extensive use of the catalogue of aerial and satellite images. Many experts believe, however, that the project will empower the federal agency to offer the most extensive collection of high resolution satellite images in Russia to date, and give both Google Earth and Yandex Maps a run for their money.

ROSREESTR’s high-resolution images will cover an unprecedented five million square kilometers of Russian territory, a lot more than the current market leaders – Google and Yandex – could muster. When the ambitious project is completed in December of next year, ROSREESTR will be posting all the images on its portal, Vedomosti reported. The portal will offer free access for both individuals and organizations, as long as they do not plan to use the images for commercial purposes.

The agency is considering outsourcing the project and could announce a tender for the purchase of satellite images in the coming months, the newspaper said. So far, two Russian companies are vying for ROSREESTR’s 600 million ruble budget, which is based on an estimated cost of $10 per square kilometer. SCANEX, a Russian firm which provides real-time monitoring of territories of Russia and the CIS countries, has expressed readiness to partake in the project. The company said “the decision comes naturally,” as it already has real-time satellite images of most of the Russian territories. However SOVZOND, a privately-owned satellite data processor, said it would need to review conditions for the project before making up its mind on whether to join.

While the primary aim of the project is not the creation of proprietary interactive mapping services such as Google Earth or Yandex Maps, image quality will be high enough to reveal details that images from such services could not show. The high-resolution images will enable users to distinguish details of objects on the ground such as fences, garbage dumps and even temporary roadwork signs, the Deputy Head of ROSREESTR Sergei Sapelnikov said. “If such snapshots are superimposed on the cadastral grid for instance, it will reveal if part of someone’s house encroaches on a neighbor's territory and allow the neighbor to sue for redress," Sapelnikov said.

Yandex, Russia's largest internet search engine, and Google, a worldwide leader in providing satellite imagery, still dominate the Russian market for satellite images, which are widely used here in agriculture, regional planning, intelligence and even warfare. However, ROSREESTR's plan is to take high-resolution images of a territory at least ten times higher than that covered by either company, Vedomosti reported. The popular Yandex Maps digital images currently cover an area of 500,000 square kilometers of Russian territory as well as some CIS countries, the company’s spokesman Ochir Mandzhikov said.

Google Russia was not available for comment, but Yandex believes that ROSREESTR's high-resolution images would not trigger an exodus of visitors from the company's site. “Generally, most visitors come to Yandex Maps for other stuff like traffic data and panoramas and virtual tours of Russian cities," Mandzhikov said. He said the company is nonetheless open to cooperation with the state agency. Yandex Maps was visited by 13.2 million users in June, according to TNS, while ROSREESTR's portal registered just 930,000 unique visitors. However, the agency hopes that putting up its high-resolution images could jack up monthly traffic to anything from six to nine million visitors, Sapelnikov said.
The source
Copyright © The Moscow Expat Site, 1999-2023Editor  Sales  Webmaster +7 (903) 722-38-02