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Close the blinds honey, Google is driving by
April 13, 2009 - Art Smith
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I spent the first 15 years or so my career taking photos of the people and places of the Mid-Ohio Valley. I know from personal experience that some people get a little annoyed if you point a camera at them or even at their property.
The law is pretty clear though. Stay on public property and take photos of things you can see from that location and you will always be fine.
Google has taken that principal to the extreme with a massive photo collection project they have been working on for a few years now.
The search engine giant is well on its way to having street level photos of every address in the country. They have recently branched out to collect photos of European addresses as well.
The street level project goes well beyond the birds’ eye view available with Google Earth. With the street level view you can clearly make out the details of your home as well as home of hundreds of millions of other Americans as well.
Google uses a fleet of cars to accomplish the photography. Google is reportedly using Chevy Colbalts on the project. The driver drives up and down every road that they can. The special camera, mounted above the car on a mast, takes photos in nine directions, including up. A GPS system notes the exact location of each photo.
The photos are later integrated into the Google Maps database. When using Google Maps, simply drag the little stick figure that is part of the navigation of the site and you will see the street level wherever on the map you drop the little guy. You can navigate up and down streets by clicking on arrows.
Google quietly paid a visit to the Mid-Ohio Valley in September of 2007. The driver slipped up and down area streets, apparently unnoticed. Google doesn’t tell you when they are paying a visit to your street. They just drive through.
In Marietta the photos provide some clues as to when they paid a visit. Sternwheelers line the riverbank, Construction on Marietta College’s Legacy Library is just getting started, and posters announce an upcoming play at the MOV Players theatre. You can see a reflection of the car in the window of a front street business.
Google is fairly tight lipped about their plans for the feature. They have been challenged a few times. An angry mop in Europe made the car turn around a few weeks ago, a marching band in Pittsburgh gave the car hero’s welcome though when it went down streets near Carnegie-Mellon University.
There are now hundreds if not thousands of U.S. communities on the site, allow you to take “trips” to both places of your past as well as places where you now live or want to visit.
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