Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Streetview Comes to Ottawa

Big News - I happened to come across today's version of the newspaper which isn't often. What I saw really jolted me - there was a story on Google Streetview cars prowling the streets of Ottawa, taking panoramas to be later implemented into the feature in Google Maps.

It was an article that dealt with the controversy that usually comes with Google's streetview feature. The thing is, a lot of people find it to be an invasion of privacy, even though the imagery is taken on public roads. To help the matter Google blurs out people's faces and license plates, though sensitive or embarrassing situations have still been caught on the streetview camera.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, "The service’s expansion to Canada will see cars and vans, each outfitted with a tall pole that has 30 special cameras attached to the top, driving through the streets of Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Quebec City, Saint John, Saskatoon and Winnipeg." So it's not just Ottawa but Canadian cities across the country. Finally.

In my opinion, I think this can be utilized to find out about places a lot more easier. For instance it can be used for travel purposes, real estate, surveys, and personal experience. I've always found the two unique things about both Google's platforms and Microsoft's. Google has the Streetview feature. Microsoft has Bird's Eye View. Both tools are unique to the main platforms. Microsoft added Bird's Eye imagery for Ottawa and other Canadian cities back in October. That was really good news. Now after waiting for a while Google has finally started sending vehicles to take their photos. This is great news because now I can visit anyplace in Ottawa without going!

However, I feel that Canada here has gotten the last leg of everything. The Citizen says "Canada is the latest country to be added to the Street View expansion. Google started offering images of streets in various cities across Britain earlier this month." I find that Google tends to focus on the U.S., then many various other countries first before ever expanding their applications to Canada. It always seems that Canada is the last on their list, and it's right next door to the country they focus the most on. So it can be pretty natural to feel left out at first. Microsoft's the same way pretty much.

All in all I think this is a very long-awaited expectation and I'm glad we're finally getting on board with this, although we won't meet without some opposition. Many privacy issues should come up. And according to the article, Quebec will be the most antsy about the whole procession. They have very strict privacy laws.
And there's no way everything's going to be perfect. Sometimes those Google cars happen on very embarrasing or sensitive things to photograph "including some of a man vomiting in the streets of Shoreditch, another man standing outside a sex shop and a third man being arrested by police."

Read the whole article here.

Can't wait till' it all comes out!

-Justin C.

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