Thursday, 26 March 2009

To view or not to view? That is the question for Google’s Street View

Since its release a week ago, Google’s Street View service has taken a lot of criticism in the press. Google Street View, an expansion of the currently existing Google Maps application, street-mapping service which gives users a ground-level view of locations on Google Maps. The service can currently be used to view streets in 25 British cities, including London, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh. Other major UK towns will become available for viewing in the coming months. Unfortunately you won’t be able to find Plum on Street View as the application doesn’t go as far as Oldham. You are able to browse around Manchester City Centre, as these photos show here.

The imagery available consists of video taken along 22,369 miles of UK streets by customised camera cars. Google say that this technology is suitable for personal and business use, allowing users to plot driving routes, look up restaurants and meeting venues, and view holiday destinations. From having a go myself, it certainly does appear useful for those who are trying to find a particular building, or students wanting to trying to get to know their way around a new city for University, for example. Still a bit confused by it? Let these Google and BBC videos explain more:

Google has been forced to remove dozens of photos from this service after numerous complaints from individuals who have found themselves in these photos, as they saw it as an invasion of their privacy. Google have confirmed that anyone could have their images removed if they asked.

Such has been the opposition to Google Street View, that there have already been calls for the service to get closed down. A formal complaint against the service, consisting of more than 200 reports from members of the public identifiable via the service, has been drawn up by the lobby group Privacy International (PI) and sent to the Information Commissioner (ICO). The ICO are now investigating the service. Watch this BBC broadcast to find out more

Have you used Google UK's Street View? What have you seen on it that caught your attention? Is your house featured and did you spot anything on your street or elsewhere that concerned - or amused you?

No comments: