Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Google Street View: People Might Be Watching

Google Street View would have to be one of the most exciting and controversial developments in mapping software at the moment. When Street View was launched in August, 2008 (the map to the left shows Street View coverage in Australia) there was quite a bit of controversy over the privacy issues. Articles including 'All-Seeing Google Street View prompts privacy fears' from Times Online and 'Google Zooms in Too Close for Some' from the New York Times, indicate the main privacy issues. There are also a number of sites and blogs now specifically related to the quite private (and funny) images that Street View can produce. One such example is Street View Fun, a site where contributors can upload the latest funny and interesting Google Street View Photos. Uploaders to You Tube have also jumped on the Street View bandwagon, this posting 'Part 1 of 'The Googling' by a group called The Vacationeers, is one of my all time favourites.

Google Street View does have competition. Since it waltzed onto the spatial technology scene in spectacular fashion, a number of other similar applications are now available. These include Mapjack (picture above), City8 (invented and launched in China 1 year prior to Google Street View), iiCosmo (developed in Japan), Earthmine (developed for private companies and involved in 3D modelling for NASA) and EveryScape. Of these, Earthmine did catch my attention due to the sophisticated nature of the software. Check out the site and the posted news articles. Also, EveryScape was interesting as it is based on the tourist industry, and allows the user to investigate inside buildings and major tourist attractions. The You Tube post of the EveryScape launch is below.

I am sure that you can see the applications these street view sites have for us in the Geography classroom. I have often used Google Street View as an introduction to Geography or mapping in junior classes (a new twist to the standard Year 7 'map your neigbourhood class activity') and it is invaluable when looking at human environments and town planning in senior geography. Now that I have discovered EveryScape, any tourism studies can now be enhanced. In essence, *almost* any location you study or discuss in class, can now be viewed in a whole new way.

For those who are the more technically minded among us, check out the Official Google Maps API Blog. This will explain, in some detail, how to embed a Google Street View Panorama onto your own blog or website (or even your school!). Information and a demo on how to do this is provided for you.

1 comment:

  1. A few more good street-view type websites with panoramic images: www.seety.co.uk (most of London); www.locaview.com (Japanese, of large Japanese cities); www.hitta.se (Swedish, of Stockholm, photographed by MapJack); Google "Daum Street View" and you'll be taken to panoramic street view imagery of Seoul, Korea - the site is in Korean, eventually it will have imagery of most of Korea; http://www.kartamania.ru/kartamania/ (Russian, I assume Moscow?).