Monday, March 16, 2009

Google images Ireland cities

Google is attempting to collect detailed photographs from five cities around Ireland for a new feature on its Website, says report. The Street View feature is already available for a number of cities around the world, in tandem with the popular Google Maps and Google Earth services.

As the name suggests, Street View enhances the traditional two-dimensional map image with digital photographs that give a panoramic picture of any point along a city street. With a PC or a compatible mobile phone, users can also zoom in on particular details such as the name of a shop or restaurant.

The image-gathering exercise will begin next week when several black cars will start driving around the streets of Dublin taking detailed digital pictures as they go. The cars are hard to miss: mounted on the roof of each one is a five-foot high apparatus equipped with eight digital cameras, low-level radar and a GPS antenna which corresponds every photograph with its exact geographical location.

Google is quick to address privacy concerns, saying that pedestrians’ faces that appear in photographs are blurred before they are published on the internet, as are vehicle registration plates. However, useful information such as shopfronts, hotel names or bus numbers will not be obscured.

Anyone concerned that a photograph may contain inappropriate content can report this to Google. “We’ve implemented some clever technology to remove areas that might cause some privacy concerns,” said Ed Parsons, geospatial technologist with Google. “Individuals can have themselves, their families or their houses removed on request.”

The service has a range of practical applications. It could be used to describe a city street in detail to a first-time visitor or to decide on a meeting point. Prospective house buyers could explore a neighbourhood before visiting in person, while motorists can familiarise themselves with key points along a route before starting their journey. Initially, Google intends to cover Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.

The service, which is free, already includes photographs of cities and rural areas in the US, New Zealand, Japan, France, Italy, Spain and Australia. The Irish street view will include suburbs as well as city centres.

Google could not confirm when the service will be formally launched in Ireland.


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