Tehran, 3 Jumadil Akhir/13 April 2013 (MINA) – Iran is planning to create an Islamic alternative to Google Earth in providing information to users worldwide.
“We are doing our best to launch the Islamic Google Earth in the next four months as an Islamic republic’s national portal, providing service on a global scale,” Mohammad Hassan Nami, minister of information and communication technology of Iran, was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency, according to OnIslam.net reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
“Preparations have been made for launching our world’s 3D map project,” Nami said pointed out the new portal, to be named Basir.
“And we are currently creating an appropriate data center which could be capable of processing this volume of information.” He added.
The media reported, created by Keyhole, Inc, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-funded company acquired by Google, Google Earth is a virtual globe, map and geographical information program.
It maps the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe.
Iranian officials have always termed the program as a tool by the West to spy on the Islamic Republic. Last year, Iranian police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said Google Earth was not a search engine but “a spying tool”.
Web users in Iran can usually access Google but some features like Gmail or Google Earth have intermittently faced filtering. According to the Guardian, Iran blocks access to many search results. Access to more than five million websites is blocked in the Shiite country.
Iranian officials have given little information about the content of the Islamic alternative to Google Earth. “We are developing this service with the Islamic views we have in Iran,” said Nami, who studied political geography in Iran and is a PhD graduate in country management from North Korea’s Kim Il-sung University.
“And we will put a kind of information on our website that would take people of the world towards reality,” he added.
“Our values in Iran are the values of God and this would be the difference between Basir and the Google Earth, which belongs to the ominous triangle of the US, England and the Zionists [a reference to Israel].”
But experts have raised serious doubts on the Iranian plans to create an “Islamic” Google Earth. “They have claimed to run their service in four months and said their data center capacity will reach Google’s size in three years,” an IT consultant, who worked on Iran’s national internet project, told The Guardian.
“Three-year project, no business model and only relying on government funding, a piece of cake indeed.
“To have a data center with such capacity and security level they need power stations, cooler systems, bandwidth, etc, which will require billions of dollars of investment that doesn’t fit with Iran’s sanctions-hit economy,” he said.
The consultant opines that the Iranian government does not have enough time to pursue the project, as incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will step down in June. “I believe they are aware of the project’s restrictions and their capabilities. They are only looking for the budget and upcoming contracts,” he said.(T/P05/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)