Google Street View
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A road junction in Manchester, England, showing nine angles.
|Initial release||May 25, 2007|
|Stable release||Release 77 (see list) / April 23, 2013
More locations in:
Romania, Poland, France, Italy, Ukraine, Thailand
|Available in||Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian (beta), Spanish|
|Website||Google Street View|
Google Street View is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world. It was launched on May 25, 2007, in several cities in the United States, and has since expanded to include cities and rural areas worldwide.
Where available, Street View images appear after zooming in beyond the highest zooming level in maps and satellite images, and also by dragging a "pegman" icon onto a location on a map. When dragging the pegman icon, blue lines on the map showing Street View imagery will appear. Using the keyboard or mouse, the horizontal and vertical viewing direction and zoom level can be selected. A solid or broken line in the photo shows the approximate path followed by the camera car, and arrows link to the next photo in each direction. At junctions and crossings of camera car routes, more arrows are shown. By using Google Maps, users can turn on steroscopic 3D mode by right-clicking in Street View to get an anaglyph version of any Street View images. However, this mode requires users to wear red/cyan glasses to see the 3D effects.
On November 21, 2008, Street View was added to the Maps application installed on the Apple iPhone. On December 10, 2008, Street View was added to the Maps application for S60 3rd Edition. Street View has now also been added to the BlackBerry and Windows Mobile versions of Google Maps. All versions of Google Maps for the Android operating system feature Street View, and the digital compass can be used to look around the locations. On February 14, 2013, Google Street View became available on the Wii U under the name 'Wii Street U'.
Google Street View displays panoramas of stitched images taken from a fleet of specially adapted cars. Areas not accessible by car, like pedestrian areas, narrow streets, alleys and ski resorts, are sometimes covered by Google Trikes (tricycles) or snowmobiles. On each of these vehicles there are nine directional cameras for 360° views at a height of about 8.2 feet, or 2.5 meters, GPS units for positioning and three laser range scanners from Sick AG for the measuring of up to 50 meters 180° in the front of the vehicle. These are used for recording a rough 3D model of the surroundings, enabling faux-3D transitions between distinct panoramas where the environment images are momentarily mapped onto this 3D model while being crossfaded to create an animated perspective change as the user travels from one panorama to another. There are also 3G/GSM/Wi-Fi antennas for scanning 3G/GSM and Wi-Fi hotspots. More recently, high quality images have been based on open source hardware cameras from Elphel.
Google Street View was introduced in the United States on May 25, 2007 and, until November 26, 2008, featured camera icon markers, each representing at least one major city or area (such as a park), and usually the other nearby cities, towns, suburbs, and parks. Many areas that had coverage were not represented by icons.
- On May 12, 2008, Google announced that it was testing face-blurring technology on its photos of the busy streets of Manhattan. The technology uses a computer algorithm to search Google's image database for faces and blurs them, according to John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Google Maps.
- On April 16, 2008, Street View was fully integrated into Google Earth 4.3.
- On July 2, 2008, Street View was introduced in France and Italy, providing the first service outside the United States and the debut of Google's new 4th Generation Cameras.
- On August 4, 2008, 28 icons of major metropolitan areas of both Australia and Japan were added.
- On December 1, 2008, New Zealand was added to Google Street View. Faces were blurred upon recommendation by the New Zealand Privacy Commission.
- Two other features included in the June 10, 2008, update were a mask of the "Google Car" and the application of face-blurring technology on all photos.
- On November 26, 2008, the Street View button and all the camera icons were removed. Instead of clicking the "Street View" button, this is now accessed using the "pegman" button in the left hand corner. When the "pegman" icon is dragged over the map blue polylines appear where Street View is available and a small window will show the current Street View. If this is dropped on the map the Street View opens and takes over the whole map window.
- On April 9, 2009, Street View became available with a full-screen option.
- On June 5, 2009, Smart Navigation was introduced which allows users to navigate around the panoramas by double-clicking with their cursor on any place or object they want to see.
- In April 2010, Google introduced indoor views of shops, restaurants, beauty salons, etc.
- On January 14, 2012, users of versions lower than Google Earth 6.0 are blocked from seeing Street View content. This is done to promote version 6.
- In November 2012, Google invited users to contribute panoramas of their own using gadgets with Android 4.2. Google highlights user-contributed panoramas with blue circle icons on Maps. The company also created a website to highlight places in the world where you can find them.
- Streets with Street View imagery available are shown as blue lines on Google Maps.
- Business interior views are shown as small orange circles. Businesses such as shops, cafes and other premises can pay a photographer to take panoramic images of the interior of their premises which are then included in Street View.
- User-contributed panoramas are shown as small blue circles.
Google Street View was introduced in the United States on May 25, 2007, and only covered areas of the United States until July 2, 2008. Images can now be seen in 48 countries, dependencies, and autonomous regions (although parts of other countries and dependencies can be seen from locations located near national borders; for example, large portions of Vatican City can be viewed from Rome's street view). Introductions have generally occurred every 2 days to 100 days. Until November 26, 2008, major cities (and early on, the only cities) were marked by camera icons, more of which were added each time. Then, all camera icons were discontinued in favor simply of "blue" coverage, while other features have been added to make access to and use of the feature more user-friendly.
On June 6, 2012, Google announced that it has captured 20 petabytes of data for Street View, comprising photos taken along 5 million miles of roads, covering 39 countries and about 3,000 cities.
Below is a table showing the countries available on Street View and the year they were first added. Plain text indicates that a country has museum views only.
|Country or territory||Year added||Notes|
|Åland Islands||2010||First semi-autonomous region available on Street View.|
|Antarctica||2010||While in Antarctica, the Pegman is shown as a Chinstrap Penguin.|
|Argentina||2013||Mountain landmarks views only|
|Australia||2008||Added on the same day as Japan; first country available in Oceania.|
|Austria||2012||Only Museum views and ski resorts|
|Brazil||2010||First country available in South America.|
|France||2008||Added on the same day as Italy, one of the first two countries available in Europe.|
|Greece||2012||Museum views only.|
|Hong Kong||2010||First place with Street View in mainland Asia, along with Macau.|
|Hungary||2013||Most recent country added along with Lesotho.|
|India||2012||Business views in major cities and some landmarks in Karnataka|
|Iraq||2011||Museum views only.|
|Israel||2012||First place with Street View in the Middle East.|
|Isle of Man||2011|
|Italy||2008||Added on the same day as France, one of the first two countries available in Europe.|
|Japan||2008||First country available in Asia. Added on the same day as Australia.|
|Lesotho||2013||Most recent country added along with Hungary.|
|Macau||2010||First place with Street View in mainland Asia, along with Hong Kong.|
|Mexico||2009||First Latin American country to be added to Google Street View.|
|Midway Islands||2012||First American overseas territory available|
|Nepal||2012||Mountain landmarks views only|
|Qatar||2012||Museum views only.|
|Russia||2011||Museum view only until 2012|
|Singapore||2009||First Southeast Asian country available.|
|South Africa||2010||First country available in Africa.|
|Svalbard||2012||Featuring snowmobile views|
|Tanzania||2013||Mountain landmarks views only|
|United States||2007||First country available to view on Street View.|
The United States was the first country to have Street View images and was the only country with images for over a year following introduction. Early on, most locations had a limited number of views, usually constrained to the city limits and only including major streets. Few suburbs or other nearby cities were included. After the first few sets of introductions, image collections from cities added were more detailed, often including every side street, more suburbs and nearby cities.
In Canada, Google Street View cars had been spotted as early as September 2007, in Montreal, though service for Canada was delayed while attempting to settle with the Canadian government over its privacy laws. The first images of Canada were made available on October 7, 2009. Currently, most of Canada can be seen on Street View with the notable exceptions of Labrador, the Gaspé Peninsula and Fort McMurray, Alberta.
On February 10, 2010, many more areas of Canada (barring extremely northern and rural areas) were added. Of note, ski runs on Whistler Blackcomb Resort were also covered in this update. As of November 28, 2012, the northernmost community currently imaged is Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and the second northernmost place in North America, after Deadhorse Airport near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
In Mexico, first reports of sightings came in from Tijuana as early as July 2007 and now Google Street View cars are being spotted in many Mexican states. On November 9, 2009, Street View was made available in the main cities of Mexico, including Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Cancún and Puerto Vallarta.
On September 30, 2010, the first cities from Brazil were added. The service started with 51 cities, most from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and greater metropolitan areas. Historic cities such as São João del Rei, Ouro Preto, Diamantina and Tiradentes were also included. On September 28, 2011 several towns in the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul were added. In August 2012, 77 more cities - mostly from Northeast and Midwest regions - were added to the service, including traffic status. Fortaleza, Campinas, Brasília, Salvador and Porto Alegre are available for traffic checking as well.
In Europe, coverage is available in 23 countries, of which 16 have complete or near-complete coverage. Coverage began in Europe on July 2, 2008, with the Tour de France route in parts of France and Italy, and other parts followed.
On August 4, 2008, the image collection of Australia was introduced. Extensive mapping of New Zealand was included on December 1, 2008.
On November 23, 2012, Google in cooperation with Indonesian Tourism Ministry has officially launched the first Google StreetView vehicle in Indonesia starting in the capital city Jakarta. Google said that it is the biggest project in Asia to date and will feature several big cities in Indonesia as well as a special project featuring top tourist attractions.
A list of the places Street View vehicles are currently driving, or where Street View is officially planned:
|Continent||Countries and regions listed on Google's site||Countries reported in media or unofficially announced|
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (June 2011)|
Google has used three types of car-mounted cameras to take Street View photographs. Generations 1–3 were used to take photographs in the United States. The first generation was superseded and images were replaced with images taken with 2nd and 3rd generation cameras. Second generation cameras were used to take photographs in Australia. The shadows caused by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation cameras are occasionally viewable in images taken in mornings and evenings. The new 4th generation cameras will be used to completely replace all images taken with earlier generation cameras. 4th generation cameras take near-HD images and deliver much better quality than earlier cameras. Even though 4th generation cameras were in use as early as April 2008, Google used older cameras for many areas as late as October 2009 for Street View and as late as September 2010 for Museum View.
In October 2008, Google introduced the Street View Trike, a pedal tricycle with a 4th generation camera mounted to take images where cars cannot reach, including footpaths and dirt tracks. The 250-pound, 9-foot long tricycles are piloted by athletes. All Street View images taken now will be taken with the 4th generation Street View cameras.
In February 2010, Google introduced the Street View Snowmobile, a snowmobile with a 4th generation camera mounted to take images on the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Slopes in preparation for the winter olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
As of January 2013, most of the United States, much of Australia, Japan, and New Zealand, a couple areas in France and Italy, some very small areas in Canada and Mexico near the U.S. border, and a few museums around the world still have low resolution images. Everywhere else covered by Street View has either always had HD images or has had its low resolution images replaced by HD images.
Camera quality comparison
|Prior low resolution photo (used from April 2007 – September 2010)||New high resolution (HD) photo (used from April 2008 – present)|
The above shows a comparison of different generations of the Street View cameras. The first image was taken with the 2nd generation Street View camera and the second image was taken with the 4th generation camera. Noticeably, the 4th generation camera provides clearer, sharper, and more vivid images than its predecessors. In most of Europe, for example, images were taken with the 4th generation camera as they were taken later. Images taken with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation cameras are gradually being phased out and replaced by images taken with 4th generation cameras. Eventually, all low resolution images will be replaced with HD images.
For most areas on street view, the pegman is shown as a standard yellow figure. However, some areas have a modified version for specific areas. For example, in Legoland (California) the pegman is shown as a Lego character, in Hawaii the pegman is a surfboarder, and on Half Moon Island (Antarctica) the pegman is shown as a Chinstrap Penguin. In certain stadiums and sports facilities, the pegman appears with sportswear when dropped in the map, such as in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Corona Park, Queens, NY. When Quest mode is enabled and Maps GL is disabled, the pegman is shown in the style of a video game character, and when dropped on NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the pegman is shown as an astronaut.
Privacy advocates have objected to this Google feature, pointing to views found to show men leaving strip clubs, protesters at an abortion clinic, sunbathers in bikinis, and people engaging in activities visible from public property in which they do not wish to be seen publicly. The concerns have led to several temporary bans of Street View in countries around the world. Google maintains that the photos were taken from public property; however, an individual taking pictures of private property using a ladder to gain a view not normally available to a pedestrian would be prosecuted for invasion of privacy or harassment in many jurisdictions worldwide. Google has yet to address this concern. The service also allows users themselves to flag inappropriate or sensitive imagery for Google to review and remove.
In May 2010, it was revealed that Google had collected and stored payload data from unencrypted Wi-Fi connections as part of Street View. German authorities are considering legal action while the Foreign Minister said "I will do all I can to prevent it." Australian police have also been ordered to investigate.
In October 2010, Google Street View ceased operations in Australia, following months of investigations from Australian authorities. However, this cessation has since ended, with Google announcing plans to continue production on May 4, 2011 and subsequently releasing updated Street View imagery for Australian towns and cities on July 27, 2011.
In April 2011, Google decided to stop taking Street View images in Germany.
In June 2011, Google decided to temporarily stop taking street images in India, after receiving a letter from the local authorities.
Artistic uses of images
Fine-art photographers including Mishka Henner, Nick Mason, Aaron Hobson, Jon Rafman, Doug Rickard, and Michael Wolf have selected Google Street View images for use in their own work. Although the images may be pixelated, the colours "muddy", and the perspective "warped", the photographs have been published in book form and exhibited in art galleries. Wolf won an honourable mention in Daily Life in the 2011 World Press Photo competition for some of his work using Google Street View. Mishka Henner is short-listed for the 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in November 2012 for his series, 'No Man's Land', which depicts sex workers at rural roadside locations.
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