Google Maps doubles Street View coverage in U.S.
"Google Inc. has been watching you, Southern California." That was the first sentence of a story we published in August 2007, when the Internet giant began incorporating street-level photos from Los Angeles, San Diego and part of Orange County into its Google Maps program.
Today, Google seems to be watching just about everyone else in America too. The company said in a post on the Official Google Blog this morning that it had dramatically expanded the territory covered by its street-view photos: "Today marks our biggest launch of Street View imagery to date: we're doubling our coverage in the United States. Several states — Maine, West Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota — will be getting the Street View treatment for the first time. We've also added imagery for Memphis, Charleston (S.C.), and Birmingham, and we've filled in lots of gaps across the country." You can see examples of some of the new images, such as the Mississippi Capitol building and Devils Tower in Wyoming, on this post at Google's LatLong blog.
As evidenced in the "before" and "after" coverage maps above, most of America is now subject to Google's version of "Candid Camera." Seeing a building before you go there can be very useful. But the people living their lives as Google's crews snap photos sometimes mind the intrusion. A few examples we cited in our story last year of people captured in the maps images: students sunbathing in bikinis at Stanford University, motorists being ticketed by police, a man walking into an adult bookstore in Oakland, even a man picking his nose on a San Jose park bench.
Google has faced a lot of criticism over the privacy concerns and adjusted its policies accordingly. As Maine Today wrote in a story about the launch in that state, "Street View only contains imagery that is already visible from public roads, and blurs identifiable faces. Anyone can easily flag for removal images that they consider inappropriate by clicking on 'Report a concern' at the bottom of the Street View image in question."
That means that as Google is watching you, you should be watching Google back.
-- Chris Gaither
Street View coverage maps by Google