Street View to go live at maps.google.ie Friday evening

30 Sep 2010

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Google has officially launched Street View on Google Maps. Street View is now live for Ireland using the www.maps.google.com but it will be tomorrow before Street View is live on www.maps.google.ie

The application, which gives users a panoramic view of a location from street level, will go live at maps.google.ie tomorrow night.

Chambers Ireland, Daft Media, Failte Ireland and the Arts Council have partnered with Google to fully integrate Street View into their respective websites to illustrate properties, businesses, cultural events and top tourist destinations.

Street View is a feature of Google Maps and Google Earth. Users can zoom in to the lowest level on Google Maps, or by dragging the orange ‘Pegman’ – Street View’s mascot – icon on the left-hand side of the map onto a blue highlighted street.

Users will be able to check out a restaurant before arriving, make travel plans, arrange meeting points, get a helping hand with geography homework, or just explore and get to know a town better.

Trinity College in Street View

“Street View has been hugely popular with our users in Europe and worldwide and we’re thrilled it’s now available in Ireland, enabling users to see street-level panoramas of major city roads and to look up and print out useful driving directions,” said John Herlihy, VP, Global Ad Operations and head of Google in Ireland.

“Google Maps and Google Earth have long been popular with Irish people and are used by governments, businesses and individuals as essential and informative tools every day of the week – Street View now adds a new dimension.

“One of the really exciting applications for Street View is in the education field. Teachers can incorporate Street View, Google Maps and Google Earth into geography or history lessons or arrange a virtual field trip. This is a really practical application of technology in the classroom which benefits students,” he added.

Herlihy said Google has gone to great lengths to safeguard privacy. Any user can easily flag images for removal that he or she considers inappropriate by clicking on ‘report a problem’. Street View also features technology that automatically blurs both faces and licence plates.

“Our technology is very effective though it may occasionally miss a face or number plate here and there. If users spot something our technology has missed just press ‘report a problem’ and we’ll get it fixed quickly,” Herlihy added.

Privacy

Street View has been used for some imaginative purposes, including one Google employee who proposed to his girlfriend via Street View. Police in the US used Street View to find the location of a kidnapped child.

Despite a controversy over privacy which flared up when Google’s Street View cars unintentionally gathered up Wi-Fi data from homes, the deputy Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland Gary Davis said he was satisfied privacy is tantamount.

“We worked closely with Google to ensure that any privacy concerns that people might have were addressed in advance of the launch date. Inevitably, some images of people were captured as the camera-cars were driven on Irish streets.

“Google has undertaken to blur the faces of such people, as well as car number plates.  This should eliminate most privacy concerns. Where blurring is insufficient or where people wish to remove other information associated with them – including images of their houses – Google has provided an easy-to-use removal tool,” Davis said.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com