The Department of Commerce just lifted a ban on satellite images that showed features smaller than 20 inches. The nation's largest satellite imaging firm, Digital Globe, asked the government to lift the restrictions and can now sell images showing details as small as a foot. A few inches may seem slight, but this is actually a big deal.
Thanks to the new ruling, Digital Globe says it'll be able to show "key features such as manholes and mailboxes." That's not exactly Enemy of the State style surveillance capabilities, but it does make it possible to use satellite imaging instead of aerial photography for things like monitoring agriculture and disaster relief. Jobs that we thought would be handed off to drones could actually go to satellites instead.