There has been lot of press (in France) recently about the IGN showcasing products to compete with Google Map and later Google Earth. The IGN portal was not accessible for weeks because it was apparently hammered by users (probably 2 request /s). The IGN team was working hard to make it accessible again. So in exclusivity I took some screenshots that will reveal the excellence of this product, the revolutionary interface and the amazing map resolution and content available to everyone.
Google, watch out, the IGN is there.
Let’s first start by comparing the Eiffel tower:
Eiffel tower by IGN
Eiffel tower by Google Map
As you can see, Google Map offers a much better resolution approximately 4.5x better than IGN. Not mentioning vivid colors compared to a washed out photo.
Let’s move on some more funny things. It is of course a matter of national security to hide some military areas from public exposure. IGN complies fully by hiding even the most stupid areas despite the atrocious resolution. Moving on close to Brest and Ile Longue in Brittany. It is the logistic base for nuclear submarines located approximately at 48.3N 4.5W.
IGN resolution is extremely poor but apparently that was worth hiding it. Note all the other white patches around which is either the sea or military areas such as nuclear missile facility, port, French Oceanic Force HQ and so on. Not sure what you could see with such a poor resolution, but having worked in the defense industry before and witnessed a C tutorial which was filed as ‘classified’, I imagine that it is indeed worth classifying other irrelevant things.
Ile Longue by IGN
Zoom on the submarine port area
Let’s point Google Map to it. Nice resolution.
Let’s zoom further to see this submarine:
As we can see, that was really worth for the IGN doing such patchy work to hide poor information considered what you can get (for free) somewhere in Google Map…as for what you can get by paying publicly, well that’s just about a 0.5m/2ft resolution.
Now, let’s move on to nicer areas, Noumea in New Caledonia located in the Pacific Ocean:
Noumea as seen by IGN portal. No satellite/aerial image, the only one available is a great road map available as a lossfull jpg bitmap full of artifacts:
Noumea as seen by Google Map (you can zoom further of course, and clearly see Ilot Amedee, Anse Vata, etc…):
Congratulations. IGN is really competing at the same level with Google Map. You can expect a Google Earth competitor in autumn 2006 and a webservice API in 2007.
That’s seriously embarrassing to produce such poor service and content while the IGN is supposed to be the cartography authority in France. Note that I’m not displaying here what you can get by switching from aerial image to street map. It is indeed a severely compressed bitmap which at some level is something that is really food for vectorization. That’s extremely poor content on the street level compared to viamichelin or mappy.
Apparently due to the “success” (ie the portal was down for several weeks), IGN will “think” about investing a bit more in the future potentially maybe not yet now.
NB: The webservice API implementation is apparently in the public competitive dialogue phase between IT companies, so expect a really bad implementation in the future and a late delivery over budget.
There is a video here which shows what to expect from in the 3D version, which looks pretty nice, but unfortunately it would be surprising if that could scale. In any case as everything is done by IT companies through stupid public call for tenders, it is unlikely they will get any expertise at all…in anything.