Google Street View launched in Norway
A special vehicle from Google, with a number of cameras on the roof, have had a long run around the streets of Norway in 2009. The result? Google Street View for Bergen, Oslo, and parts of eastern Norway. The rest of the country’s roads will gradually be photographed by Google Norge, but not with a guarantee for all of northern Norway to be documented.
With the images taken by car, the Norwegian driving season is rather limited. Google’s timeframe for photographing Norwegian streets is from May to September. The car uses eight cameras and a laser radar to create the 3D effects.
“The car is being driven at normal speed, and photos are taken automatically so the driver concentrates on driving. The images are taken approximately every ten meters, depending on the speed of the vehicle. I have been in the Google car for a few days, and yes, it’s just driving around,” said Ed Parsons, a Geospatial Technologist at Google.
On the pedestrian streets, a tricycle with cameras will be used instead.
“The goal is to create the feeling of being in a specific location. More than just to see a map from above, or an aerial photo. You feel like you are standing on a street corner. You can see the buildings from a visitor’s perspective, and you know what to look for,” said Parsons.
Parsons is very proud of Google Street View for the everyday applications, to the more unusual. With help from Street View, you can see shop windows, among other things, very clearly, which means that you can virtually window shop from your computer. In addition, you can also see what it says on the parking signs outside of your hotel. If you stay at the hotel and plan to drive your car, you can easily find out how long you have to unload your luggage before the parking attendant gets suspicious.
Individuals and license plate numbers are not visible on Google Street View for privacy. If you don’t like something, you can report your problems to Google.
“Street View is not about people, but what a place looks like. Anyone can go and see these streets anyway,” said Parsons.
Parsons points out that the blurring of faces and license plates is not perfect, but pretty close.
“In 90 percent of cases, our programs are able to erase it so it is gone. But if someone discovers that the job wasn’t done well or there is a picture that you do not want on Street View, you can report it to Google,” said Parsons.
On all the images, there is a “Report Problem” button. Fill out a form and explain the problem. The picture will be removed from Street View– “No questions asked,” emphasizes Parsons.
“My neighbor had our whole street removed, but I don’t know why. It must have been a joke, because he’s a great guy,” he grins.
The camera is tilted an angle so it reflects light. You can see what’s in the window, but not inside the window.
“We only show buildings and what places look like,” said Jan Grønbech, manager of Google Norge. “This will be a something of a time machine in the future, and how things looked in the ‘old days’.”
Grønbech doesn’t know how often Google Norge will update the street photos, but will try to do if the street view changes significantly.
“People really don’t have that much to do. There is no doubt that the strangest things will emerge from this. I am just waiting for the first time when some “gossip” will be on the face of a statue,” concludes Parsons.