A national lawn care company that's now in the Milwaukee-area is one of the latest businesses to use satellite images to get a close look at potential customers. And use of "eye in the sky" photos and other images has been growing.
While many homeowners still fire up the lawn mower to cut their own grass, others turn to lawn-care services. The fast-growing national firm Lawn Love has just started in the Milwaukee area, using for now, about 60 local contractors to do the actual yardwork. Sort of like how ride-hailing companies Uber or Lyft use local drivers.
One of Lawn Love's selling points is that it uses satellite imaging software to review a property and generate a quote in less than two minutes. Lawn Love Founder and CEO Jeremy Yamaguchi calls it a structured blueprint.
"We measure the front yard, sidewalk, backyard area, roof perimeter, driveway length, and that lets us provide a super-fast remote estimate for your home. You can book it from there. Coordinate your service with a smartphone or Web browser. It's a dramatically easier experience for getting an estimate for lawn care," Yamaguchi explains.
He says using publicly-available satellite images, including Google Earth, to look closely at your yard isn't an example of Big Brother.
Jim Lacy, of the Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office at the UW-Madison, says aerial photography has existed for almost 100 years — and satellite images for about 50.
"What's new, however, is the amount of imagery and photography that's out there. The resolution — or amount of detail you can see — in the imagery that's out there. The tools that are available and the frequency of what's available, as well. A lot of things have evolved and we can thank the Internet, once again, for changing the way things are done," Lacy says.
With more private satellites being launched, he expects more commercial use of images from space. He also expects more frequent use by governments of aerial photos.
“You know, in the past, it used to be pretty much regularly that every five years, a county or state agency might acquire new photography. We're seeing that start to move to a two-to-three year repeat cycle, just because the cost has dropped so dramatically over time."
Lacy understands that some people might think the government is spying on people. But he says it's his experience that the data from overhead is used to do things like update maps and monitor pollution. Or in the case of Lawn Love, offer a quick quote on the price of cutting your grass.
Support is provided by Dr. Lawrence and Mrs. Hannah Goodman for Innovation reporting.
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