From the Earth to the Moon

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 ┬ávery 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)

6 comments

  1. Lrae

    Well said Ed.
    And to top it off… you can put the entire library of images, maps, directions and the wealth of encyclopedic knowledge in your pocket and access it from almost any place you want, day or night.

  2. Bob

    Quote ed
    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.

    Actually, I find the ability for people to peer into my house via these images quite an invasion of privacy. Opting ‘in’ rather than ‘out’ of these sorts of images should be the rule to protect privacy.

    Am I in the minority?

    • Ed

      Hi Bob,

      Yes I think you are in a very small minority, and to clarify people cannot peer into you house they can only see the outside of your house as it was the day the car passed. If even this troubles you, and you wish to have your house removed completely then this is of course an option available to you.

      ed

  3. Brian

    I am not certain that I agree with the privacy advocates, because my wife was complaining just last night about the street where she grew up having the name changed, and she wanted to find her home in Atlanta. Her only recourse is to send letters to local historians requesting info on name changes to streets that they might recall, so it would be much better if there was a place where she could access the maps directly.

    And, what will happen to those sharp images?

    Blurred for privacy or not- will they just fade away into history?

    I don’t know that there is a simple answer to this question….

    • Ed

      Hey Brian, I agree there is huge historical significance in this snapshot of the nation, I hope we can find a way to protect our digital heritage ?

  4. Pingback: From The Earth To The Moon Results | Worldwide News

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