If you see a van bristling with video cameras and other electronic gear on your street, relax, it's not Big Brother. Geospan Corp., a Minneapolis geographical-information-systems company, plans to unleash a fleet ef such vans to inventory the nation's infrastructure for utilities, real estate firms, and other customers.
Geospan's custom vans use global-positioning-system satellite receivers and terrestrial-navigation gear to create precise electronic street maps. The video images will be compressed and stored on compact disks. A computer data base will link the digital maps to the corresponding video images.
Geospan CEO Jerry Robinson foresees a myriad of markets. Government transportation agencies could keep an accurate visual record of street and highway conditions. Real estate agents could give prospective customers a quick video tour of a neighborhood. And banks, insurers, and real estate assessors could use the technology to help evaluate properties.
EDITED BY NAOMI FREUNDLICH