It’s been nearly six years since I started working with Becca and the AP Crew. During our first meetings we developed a new marketing strategy focused on developing high quality creative assets, aka the gifts that keep giving, and away from expenses, aka the dollars you never get back.

One of the first questions I remember asking Becca was something to the effect of, “what sales tool would you want if you could have anything?”

When she said, “An interactive property map”, my inner geography nerd jumped for joy.

AP as seen from space circa 2017.

Suffice it to say, the property map has been and continues to be one of if not the most effective sales and marketing tools we’ve created. What started with a question from me has evolved into lots of questions from Becca, many of which she likes to preface with,

“this may be a dumb question, but can we…”

Six years later and all those “dumb” questions have led to some smart developments and a neighborhood that barely resembles itself in 2017.

My favorite question

A blank canvas along the riverfront as seen from the Google street view car circa 2013.

One of the first questions I remember regarding the map was about updating the old imagery taken by the Google car and used in the street view experience.  The images were captured in 2013 and AP is barely unrecognizable compared to what it looks like today.

Aerial view of AP’s riverfront lots circa 2023.

Becca would ask me about how to get them updated because when people see it they think AP is a barren, and undeveloped development. Not exactly the image we’d like to put forth.

And I’d tell her…

“Sorry Becca, but there’s nothing we can do about that. We’re at Google’s mercy as to when they feel it’s worth updating the views of AP.”

This would typically be followed with resigned acceptance and another question like,

“OK, but how about updating the satellite images that are on Google Maps?”

And I’d tell her…

“Sorry Becca, but there’s nothing we can do about that. We’re at Google’s mercy as to when they feel it’s worth updating the satellite imagery of AP.”

And this would again be followed with resigned acceptance until the following year, at which point we’d go back through the same round of questions and answers.

Which portion of that No is actually Yes?

Before responding to Becca’s annual mapping questions in 2022 I decided to do some digging into what it would take to procure our own satellite imagery and incorporate it into the property map. I mean, it’s not like the satellites stop orbiting and gathering data, so it has to be available somewhere, right?

Come to find out yes, it was, but the long story short was that the resolution of the free imagery was far too low (10m) to be practical for our application and the high resolution imagery I was able to find at the time was crazy expensive, I’m talking like 6 figure expensive.

So I had to respond again with a “no”, but this time with a much higher percentage of “yes”.

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

Mark Twain

Now it’s 2023 and after years of answering the annual mapping question I was starting to think, hmmm… maybe she’s right, perhaps this is a dumb question… maybe this year I’ll just tell her,

“Of course we can have the imagery updated! Just go to Google’s website and call up their customer service department! If the service rep can’t help just ask to speak to the assistant to the regional manager!”

But getting older hasn’t just imbued me with sarcastic restraint, it’s also taught me that in a world evolving as rapidly as ours, there’s a good chance those old questions already have new answers.

So I started digging, thinking that perhaps AI would provide the answer to our  perennial question. It turns out that AI would entertain my pre-coffee musings quite well, but it wouldn’t provide the solution we needed for affordable, high resolution satellite images.

However, during my search I did find a blog post about Apollo Mapping, a relatively new company that serves as a broker between imagery providers like Airbus Space & Defense and consumers like us.

Yahtzee!

Pencil art smirking capybara wearing a fedora drinking tea.
AI can do plenty of amazing things but finding us suitable satellite images wasn’t one of them… yet. Here’s an AI generated image from Chat-GPT’s DALL-E of a “Pencil art smirking capybara wearing a fedora drinking tea.” And if you’re wondering like my wife was, yes, that’s exactly what came to my mind when prompting an AI to generate an image for me 🙂

So after many (many) 🙂 years of c’est la vie… my “100% no” became “100% yes!” Here are the two images we acquired through Apollo Mapping.

The one on the left has a 30 cm resolution and was captured on October 5, 2022 by the Airbus Defense and Space Pléiades Neo satellite. The one on the right has a 75 cm resolution and was captured on May 3rd, 2023 by the Chang Guang Space Tech Company Jilin-1 4 band satellite. We ultimately decided to use the image from 2022 in the property map due to the higher resolution but just pull the slider left to see just how much development has happened between 10/2022 and 05/2023. Or just take a look through the slideshow below to see all the homes sold in 2022.