Officials Are Looking For Your Swimming Pool on Google Earth Right Now

Illustration for article titled Officials Are Looking For Your Swimming Pool on Google Earth Right Now

Google Earth is great to use—until it bites you on the bum and alerts the authorities to the existence of your swimming pool. After Greece found out backyard swimmers last year, a US town is cracking down now.


Bad luck if you're a resident of Riverhead in Long Island with a swimming pool. The council has been using Google Earth to voyeur over the town, looking for unpermitted pools. Those unpermitted pools, whose owners were too lazy to fill in the paperwork, have earned the council a relatively tidy $75,000 in fines. Hey, it could be worse—drunk teens could be pissing in them instead.


Greece cracked down similarly last year in the midst of their economic meltdown, fining the heck out of people who failed to declare their chlorine habitats to dodge higher taxes.

I'm waiting for the day when social services seeks out battered siblings, like this pair. [TechCrunch]

Image Credit: Nikpawlak


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Vangelis Vasilopoulos is the chief engineer for a company which builds swimming pools in the wealthy northern suburbs of Athens, home to ship-owners and tycoons like Spyros Latsis, one of the richest men in the world, who hosts Prince Charles on his travels to Greece. Industrialist Theodore Angelopoulos and his wife Gianna, who led the organising committee for the Athens Olympic Games (only six years ago, when Greece was heralded a "little nation miracle") are installed there too, as is Mr Papandreou himself.

Mr Vasilopoulos says his company has been "inundated with calls" from residents of such elite residential neighbourhoods as to how to camouflage their swimming pools. At first blush, the requests seem bizarre.

In fact, they stem from the revelation that the Greek finance ministry is using Google Earth software to track down the owners of the pools, which tax inspectors consider an indicator of wealth, and which have often been built illegally.

"There are therefore two reasons to hide one’s swimming pool," said a pool-owner who confessed guilt on both counts and, not surprisingly, asked not to be named.

Fortunately for him, however, there is a ingenious solution.

"The formula is simple," said Mr Vasilopoulos. "All you need is a green-coloured cover and then the pool cannot be spotted from above. But if the water is visible, or the netting or cover is blue, then you’ve had it".