Thursday, March 19, 2009

Google launches Street View in UK

Google Street View launches in UK Google's 'Street View' service, which gives users the ability to take a virtual tour of cities mapped from thousands of specially-taken photographs, has launched today in the UK. The service, which will initially launch in 25 British cities including Manchester, London and Belfast, was originally unveiled in May 2007, and has since been expanded to nine countries, including Japan, Australia, France and Spain, as well as the US where it launched. And although I dislike Street View because of privacy worries, I think this sounds like a fun challenge: As a cheeky sidenote to the launch, Google have hidden popular children's book character Wally from Martin Handford's Where's Wally series somewhere in today's release, challenging users of the site to find the forgetful traveller, who is wearing his trademark jumper, walking stick and red and white striped bobble hat. (link via independent.co.uk) What do you think about Street View? Do you think Street View is an invasion of privacy, or a fun and useful navigational tool? I will admit it can probably be very useful and also quite a bit of fun to take a virtual tour of just about any location. The privacy issue is a valid one however. I can see why people worry (myself included) about their privacy being invaded even though Google claims they have employed special techniques to obscure faces and number-plates in the images. Cities currently covered by Street View UK: London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bradford, Cambridge, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Swansea, York, Newcastle, Dundee, Southampton, Norwich and Scunthorpe. Walk through the UK's streets with Street View Update 20 Mar 2009: Where’s Wally found in London Internet sleuths have uncovered one of the great mysteries of Google Street View -- the location of children’s character Wally, from the Where’s Wally? series. (link via telegraph.co.uk) That was fast!

6 comments:

  1. Looks like we're OK here in the wilds of Wales, Maureen!

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  2. I wouldn't be so sure, Jenny. I notice that Swansea and Cardiff are included so it lookes like they have started in Wales too.

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  3. I have mixed feelings about this! It's interesting to look at, and could be helpful at times I suppose, but like you I have the usual reservations about privacy.
    Enjoy the weekend! xx

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  4. Yep - that's how I feel, Flighty. It has its good points but there is the privacy worry.

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  5. It's a bit weird until you realise that they know everything about us anyway. In the States, you can Google someone's phone number and a photo of their house comes up. Fortunately, they seemed to think my house was the corner shop!
    I have Google Maps on my I-phone and I was able to zoom right into an aerial view of my mum's house (in England). I forgot to tell her that it wasn't a live shot, and for about a week she thought I might be watching her comings and goings! Tee hee.

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  6. I had no idea it could be used like that in the states! That seems quite scary to me. When you start linking information together, that's when there is a potential for it to be used in ways that could be dangerous. And what happens to all the records?

    Also, despite Google insisting they would use advanced software technology to blur both faces and licence plates, I've been reading about lots of photos that had been missed.

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