Google To Launch Street View Feature In Britain In Spring 2009

December 30, 2008 0

London— Have you ever imagined taking a stroll in New York City’s Time Square, all the while sitting in your home in UK? Well, having access to Internet, you can take that same stroll down the streets of New York absolutely free. No air fare, no jet lag, no translators needed. Search Giant Google is prepared to debut Street View for UK some time next year as the mind-numbing process of collating and processing millions of photographs of Britain’s streets and roads continues in full swing.

Google Earth, the popular geo-tagging service has been utilized for varying purposes in the UK, such as from locating pools to swim in by nefarious teens to planning vacations and driving routes, but, missing from the UK Google Earth service is the street view that is popular in the US.

Street View is one of the most popular aspects of Google Maps and was launched back in 2007 in the United States before conquering Italy, Japan, France, Spain and Australia since then.

And now, Google is all set to introduce Street View in the UK this spring and apparently has vehicles with cameras driving around already. For months now, vans and cars with specially designed camera pods have been crisscrossing the country, taking pictures.

The in depth images collected has raised the ire of some homeowners, military installations and others due to the detail offered. Already critics are questioning the benefits of the projects with at least one group, Privacy international, saying that it will take the matter to the Information Commissioner, arguing that it is breaching data protection laws.

Simon Davis, from the group, said earlier this year: “In our view they need a person’s consent if they make use of a person’s face for commercial ends.”

The application empowers users to virtually dive into Google’s popular Maps feature and travel around at street level. It uses millions of 3D photographs to give users a 360° horizontal and 290° vertical view of their location.

Users of Street View would able to see makes and models of cars and may even be able to see license plate numbers and more details. Some claim that the images could be used to plan theft of terrorist acts as well.

Although search giant Google has already assured to obscure the faces of any people and number plates of cars photographed by its vehicles in Britain, as it has done in other cities.

The feature was launched in May 2007, when major US cities including New York City, Miami and Las Vegas were available for exploration.

According to The Independent, with London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh first to get the Street View treatment by spring, joining overseas locations including the vast majority of US cities, plus selected cities in Australia, Japan, France, Spain and Italy.

While that is good news for many, there are concerns about ‘privacy’. You see, Google has taken loads of photos and you could be in one. Have you given permission to be photographed?

Well, if you think you have been photographed without permission — you can report to Google by clicking at the “Report a concern” icon located at the bottom of all the pictures. Google’s cameras also use a special technology that recognizes and blurs bystander’s faces and license plates to protect the identities of people who may have unknowingly had their picture taken by a Google camera.