Today some 230,000 miles of Street View coverage has gone live in Google Maps, which represents arguably the most detailed map of the UK every produced. I say this because of the amount of information contained in each panoramic photograph is simply massive.
Yes it may not look like a conventional cartographic map, but it is nevertheless rich geospatial information and represents the next evolution of maps.
Street View images contain both quantitative information, parking restrictions from signs, opening times of shops, the type of tree most common is the surburan streets of Manchester and qualitative information, the “sense of place” something very difficult to represent using traditional cartographic techniques.
Street View imagery in the UK will I hope become a valuable resource to academics researching the state of the nation at the beginning of the 2010′s, a image taken every 10 metres or so for 238,000 miles a distance equivalent to travelling from the earth to the moon, must represent one of the largest archives of photographs ever collected.
It is disappointing that the raw images used to create street view will have to be destroyed at the request of the European Union Data Protection Working Party, leaving only the privacy blurred published versions for future generations to accesses, still that is the balance we need to achieve between providing useful services and protecting privacy.
When I was running around Covent Garden in the early 1990′s creating a “hypermedia” map using a video camera and Apple’s Hypercard, I had a vague idea that such a database of navigable scenes might be extended to other parts of London, but National Coverage… that would have been Science Fiction !
But then again so once was putting a man on the moon !
Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)