of Public Revenues for Buenos Aires in Argentina.
is no novice at using high tech tools he finds on the internet. In 2005, he
unearthed a novel computer system through which about 250,000 Argentines,
politicians among them, used credit cards held at banks registered in other
countries to avoid sales tax.
Montoya now says his office is turning to
satellite images to wage "a real war" on fiscal deficits, and has already taken
several steps to reduce what he calls widespread real estate tax fraud in
The virtual globe program Montoya uses for real
is Google Earth™,
a free program which integrates detailed satellite images and aerial photos
together with maps so that users can view specific homes, businesses and
buildings in incredible detail.
"Images of properties from the sky help square the actual size of properties
with that declared by taxpayers to make sure the proper amount of taxes are
being paid," Montoya says.
Government officials use the program to access satellite images of land and
property and zoom-in on what Montoya calls "undervalued real estate". This is
especially important when wealthy individuals live in gated communities where
tax officials have not had access. The program is used to peak into back yards
and check if taxpayers have expanded their homes in ways that would increase
property values for taxation.
resolution and clarity of the quality images provided by the program is
startling. Most areas are covered by satellite imagery with a resolution of
about 15 m per pixel. Population centers are often covered by aircraft imagery
with much higher resolution and even 3D views.
The program comes with an address search and a business search feature. Both
have boxes where you can enter either a specific address or a more general
search tem like “downtown Dallas" or ‘pizza in Clovis New Mexico” so users can
quickly find anything they are looking for -- anywhere on earth.
Satellite and aerial images this clear were previously available only to agents
of the superpowers or investigators subscribing to expensive programs. Now
officials like Montoya as well as citizens all over the world can easily use
free programs available to anyone with an internet connection to get detailed
photos and information about anyone on the planet.