Google Street View hits York and the UK

March 25, 2009

Above is Google Street View in action down The Shambles in York.

What is Google Street View?

Google Street View is a 360° view of streets. So instead of the normal view you are used to in Google of looking down upon the street from a birds eye view, it displays in a way that you would walk down it.

The views are all staged every so many metres, so you can move on a bit and then view everything around you and keep doing this as you wander around hopelessly trying to find yourself somwhere!

To gather all this data, Google sent out a number of cars to drive around all the streets in certain cities in the UK. These cars had a multitude of cameras attached taking God knows how much data in as they go. Living in York myself, it was nice to hear that they had driven around our streets. The obvious first thing to do was to find my house :)

Activating the Street View

To activate the street view, you need to drag the little orange man on the map controls onto a street. As you are dragging him, the streets with Street View activated will turn blue. Once dropped, the view loads and you can then drag the map around and use the controls to change the view and walk the streets.

Invasion of privacy?

There has been a lot of debating as to whether or not this has been a massive invasion of people’s privacy. In York at least the council have been pretty miffed at the fact Google didn’t ask permission to drive around our noble streets….does almighty Google need to ask permission? There must be thousands of people who take footage of York and post it on the net. A quick search on YouTube would find this…

The only people I can see having a major problem with this are the people who have something to hide, perhaps the people who have been spotted coming out of sex shops or in places they weren’t supposed to be, with people they shouldn’t be with or carrying out acts of crime…

I think it’s great and have spent a bit of time wandering my home town. Google Street View is currently in the following cities in the UK: Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Bradford, Scunthorpe, Bristol, London, Belfast, Cardiff, Gateshead, Swansea, Norwich, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Birmingham, Coventry, Liverpool, Southampton, York, Cambridge, Oxford, Watford.

Celeb spotting

There have been a number of supposed spotting of celebrities and other weird and wonderful things on Street View. Things like Wally from Where’s Wally? Liam Gallagher, the Stig and more. I think as more towns and cities catch wind that Google will be driving around their place soon, they will conjour up fun games to spot and play on the Street View.