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"On a regular basis, Pictometry helps us get an ambulance to a person who needs help" in an out-of-the-way place, said Ginger Rudiger, who manages the 911 dispatch center in largely rural Polk County in central Florida. "It's like having a magical photo album at your fingertips."
So far, the six-year-old company has mapped most of the nation's big cities and 140 of the 3,200 counties where 30 percent of Americans live. Urban and rural zones encompassing 80 percent of the population will be shot by the end of next year, as well as big chunks of Canada, Latin America, Europe and beyond, it said.
The privately held company, based in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta, employs 105 people, is profitable and boasts a perennial doubling of sales that could top $100 million by 2008. Courted by the likes of Bill Gates, it has been showered with calls from Wall Street this year about its potential plans to go public.
Microsoft Corp. signed a five-year licensing deal last spring that will make Pictometry's millions of static digital pictures more readily available on the Internet. Beginning in June, close-ups of individual homes will go on sale for $3 each.
The partnership gave the world's largest software maker a distinct edge in a newly evolving "visual GPS" category of online mapping. Google Earth's three-dimensional maps, by contrast, rely on elongated satellite images.