Don't look now but Google Street View is coming to Calgary (and 10 other major Canadian cities) soon. Google Street View gives users the ability to see street-level views of streets, buildings & other landmarks from Google maps. The service has been available for some time in nine countries including Australia, Britain, France & the US but its Canadian deployment has been delayed by privacy issues.
A car much like the one pictured here drives around the city capturing 360 degree views from the street-level. Ten days ago people in Toronto spotted Chevrolet Cobalts cruising the streets, modified with cameras on a large tripod mounted to the roof.
Eleven panoramic cameras, housed in a softball-size gadget mounted to the roof of the cars capture 360 degree horizontal and 290 degree vertical high-res images every few metres, which are then digitally sewn together in post-production to create a seamless panoramic street-level view on Google Maps and Google Earth. These images are then uploaded and provided to viewers around the world. The $45,000 US Decoda 2360 camera has crawled dozens of US cities.
Privacy commissioners in Canada gave Google three criteria to ensure the pictures comply with the strict Canadian privacy laws:
- All faces and license plates must be obscured
- No faces or license plates that aren't obscured can be stored in databases
- Local authorities must be notified before the Google Cam car starts taking pictures
There are now several popular websites that show Street View bloopers, including pictures of nude sunbathers, people urinating, nose-picking etc. Google insists that all images abide by "local laws" and plans to post Canadian pictures from Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and St. John shortly.
Let me know if and where you spot the Google Street View Cam-car!
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