Google Map’s Street View–freaky but can be useful

When I discovered Google Earth a while back, I was quite amazed with its capabilities.

After downloading the application and playing with it for about 10 minutes, the novelty wore off.

So much of what and how we remember events in our everyday lives is through scenes in movies we’ve seen.

In the 2nd installment of Tom Clancy‘s Jack Ryan franchise, “Patriot Games,” I recall seeing a control room scene where the satellite is showing a terrorist training camp in the desert.

The surveillance video showed a woman sitting in the sun. Somehow through the magic of Hollywood, the satellite imagery zoomed in to show the woman was a red head.

At the time, I laughed out loud, thinking to myself of how absurd that could be. Now that I’ve seen what Google Maps can do, I can believe what the military version can do for the spooks.

And what does this have to do with anything?

Recently I had to meet some students at UC Riverside’s California Museum of Photography. I had the address but the actual location of the entrance is hard to describe.

I wracked my brains to come up with a some sort of description or direction. Even thought of taking some pictures when I went by.

Turns out the answer to my problem was right there in Google maps. When you enter the address in the google maps page, it shows up much like Mapquest & Yahoo maps.

The big difference is with Google maps there is sometimes an option called “Street view.” Play the video below to see what I mean.
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If you click on “Street view,” you’ll be presented with a virtual reality view from the street level and you can click your mouse and look around in a 360°.

In my case, I just have to take a screen shot of the entrance to the CMP and send that along to my students.

I know, I’m assuming that my students are web savvy. But it’s a lot easier than trying to describe on the phone which way is left and north and so on to the directionally challenged.

So the next time you’re organizing something, try this tip and see if your Google map search returns with a “Street View.”

Oh, I naturally tried entering my home address. The street view showed the “approximate address” but what’s scary is my car can be seen in our driveway.

Understandably the resolution can’t be very high otherwise these virtual reality images would take ages to load. So individual house numbers or car license plates can’t be read. It’s enough to remind me that it’s all about information and who has access to it.

[flashvideo file= /]

So, why then did I say this is freaky? Enter your home address in that search field. When I saw my car in my driveway, initially all sorts of bells and alarms went off in my head.

Then I started to wonder who Google pays to drive around to do these pictures from the street level. Not all searches have a “Street View” yet. I suppose eventually they will.

I can think of how this could be useful if I were in the market for a house and I wanted to just see what the neighborhood looks like, couldn’t you?

7 thoughts on “Google Map’s Street View–freaky but can be useful”

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  2. Shane,
    I just realized my post was “broken” when I went to read your comment on this.

    Anyway, I fixed it. I recorded a video of how to use “Street View”. Let me know if you can see the 2 videos now.

    I don’t know what Google pays to have all these street views done, but did you notice they stick to public thoroughfares only?

    And whenever possible their images are low rez so that you can’t actually read license plates of cars in their street view. I suspect that is intentional for privacy reasons.

    I can see my car in my driveway when I punch in my address.

    I hope you have a great vacation. Stay safe and take lots of pictures Shane.

  3. Peter, I will have to agree with the “freaky” part.I am vacationing in the North Georgia mountains this week and actually used the street view when planning the trip here. I recall passing a small intersection and thinking how difficult it would have been to navigate through it without first seeing the street view.

    Does Google pay someone in every state to strap a camera to the top of their car and drive across the country just to provide this free service to us? What a great idea!

    The person who shot the video near my home was driving a new VW bug. I caught the shadow several times. LOL!

  4. I know what you mean about functionality. I started including a map to some of the locations where I shoot pictures. It’s quite easy to do.

    I need to see how accurate and reliable those maps are outside the US. Maybe you can share that with me. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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