Google Street View Implements Geographic Data Technologies

In May 2007 Google public geodata service released Street View for the Maps application which lets the user see 360° panoramic street level images that can be rotated around and manipulated, even followed through in a linear route taking the user on a kind of virtual tour in effect. It started with just 5 cities in the US but now nearly all major cities have been covered in the world.

Places like the UK, New Zealand and Japan have had nearly all their roads covered by the relentless Street View van. Google Maps Street View is a brilliant way of finding a place you have not previously visited. After finding the place on Google Maps, the user can zoom into the street view to have a look what the place really looks like, spotting landmarks or things to look out for at the turnoff. It is even possible to zoom in and see the numbers on people’s doors.


Immediately after its release Google Street View did receive some complaints due to privacy concerns about the uncensored nature of the panoramic photographs. For example, some members of the government in the UK were not too happy about the photographing of the SAS base in Hereford. As Google quite rightly said, however, there’s nothing there that you can’t see from the road driving past.

Since then Google has responded by blurring faces of the public using automatic face detection software. If you have seen the van driving past at some point, the chances are that you are pictured somewhere on Google Street View, staring at the camera like everyone else with blurred face hiding a gawping expression. But just where was it when you saw the van go past?