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Microsoft bringing Streetside maps to Europe in challenge to Google Street View

BingStreetsideMap

Microsoft is taking Streetside, it's rival to Google's Street View, to the streets of Europe.

According to the BBC, cars fitted with 360-degree panoramic cameras have hit boulevards, roads and avenues in London, snapping scenes to be used in Microsoft's Bing Maps, which competes with Google Maps.

And Microsoft is planning to map out images of other roadways in other English cities and European countries next month, the BBC said.

No date was offered as to when Streetside scenes would go live for Europe on Bing Maps, and Microsoft officials were not available for comment on Wednesday morning.

Streetside is already available in most major U.S. cities and is an effort Microsoft is continuing to expand in America as well.

Google's Street View efforts have run into a bit of trouble due to the wrongful collection of private data from unsecured W-Fi networks while its photo-taking cars and bikes cruised around the U.S. and Europe over the last few years.

Last week a Swiss court ruled that Google must guarantee that faces and license plates are unrecognizable before publishing street scenes from Switzerland in its Street View maps. Google said it was considering its appeal options for the court order.

Last month Google was fined 100,000 euros by France for improperly gathering and storing data collected by its Street View cars and bicycles.

Google has apologized for wrongfully collecting Wi-Fi data with its Street View vehicles multiple times over the last few months and promised to delete the data it has collected.

It may then come as not much of a surprise that Microsoft is saying it won't make the same errors when collecting Wi-Fi data on its Streetside routes, which will be less ambitious than Google's Street View routes, for now.

"We're not setting out to record every street. We believe it is most valuable in urban centres where people want to find services," Dave Coplin, Microsoft Corp.'s director of search, told the BBC.

Microsoft is collecting some Wi-Fi data, which will be used to pair Streetside with "location-based services," Coplin told the BBC.

Among the data being collected while snapping photos will be the "unique number that identifies the location of a hot spot," along with the hot spot's signal strength and what type of Wi-Fi signal is being used, the BBC said.

But, while Microsoft has already taken some Streetside photos, it has so far collected no Wi-Fi data, the report said.

"We took the decision to postpone Wi-Fi data collection," Coplin told the BBC. "We'd like to do it the right way."

RELATED:

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Swiss court orders Google Street View to block faces, license plates

Google says Microsoft's Bing is copying its search results

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screenshot of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles as depicted on Microsoft's Streetside view on Bing Maps. Credit: Microsoft Corp.

 
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