At last, Google has released Street View to the UK as part of Google Earth and Google Maps. And it’s pretty good.
Being slightly in the sticks, I’m not covered unfortunately – but my nearest city (Leeds) certainly is. They’ve got a good range of areas; it makes me wonder, how much local knowledge do they need of a city, before it’s reasonably well covered by SV? Or is it entirely done as a guess, geared around what appear to be central and/or most popular roads?
Leeds is covered amazingly well, with all but the most minor of routes covered, within the outer ring road (A6120). Hopping over the Pennines, and Manchester is covered (slightly less) well up to the ‘middle’ ring road ( A5145/A576 level). Surprisingly the Trafford Centre gets a miss.
The best is the one below – I was tipped off about this one in a street somewhere in Oxford…
In particular, what I like about Street View (from the GE side) is the way that you zoom in: it really does take you down to street level; each panoramic photograph is represented by a ‘goldfish bowl’. If you swoop in from above you get a great sense of perspective.
It has raised loads of questions though, notably that of privacy. There was a picture on the news tonight of a guy leaving an adult shop in London. Isn’t that contravening a little bit of privacy? Maybe it’s the risk you take – you could get spotted by your next door neighbour. But that’s momentary: the photo of the guy leaving the store is online forever. Perhaps Street View will deter people from using such establishments in future.. bad for business maybe? You could also argue that Google should have photographed more city and town centres, rather than the residential areas of fewer cities. For example, in Leeds, you’ve got loads of backstreets that have been covered. Maybe the effort should have gone into more towns, but concentrate on city centre and non-residential areas.
In all, I think it’s great. It will spring up loads more mashups and opportunities; it’s also great just to have a view about – a little like when aerial photography first appeared online. This time it’s a bit more at human level.