Google launched the New Zealand edition of its Street View software this week. Street View is found on Google maps and is free to use. By typing in an address or dragging a small man on the screen, anyone with an Internet connection has a 360-degree, street level view of just about any address in New Zealand.
Street View was first launched in the United States in 2007 and is now active in six other countries including France, Italy and now New Zealand. Google eventually wants to provide street views of the entire world. The New Zealand images were collected by cameras fixed to the roof of cars that drove around the country’s streets over the past year. Some people are worried that Street View will be used to help plan burglaries and Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff expected some concerns about privacy when people realized what Street View could do. However, Street View only shows what you can already see from public roads. To protect privacy even more, Google have made sure that faces and vehicle licence plates are blurred and also people could ask to have a picture removed.
Street View can be used for many different things such as looking at holiday destinations before leaving home or locating a local business. Mike Elford, National President of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, said people wanting to buy or rent a house can check out local facilities first. George Hickton, Chief Executive of Tourism New Zealand, thinks Street View is a great tool for tourists and people who are thinking of visiting New Zealand will have a chance to see what our country offers before they even get here.
It is useful too for telling someone how to get to your place: they just enter their address and your address and Street View shows you how get there. It also tells you which streets to take, when to turn left, how many kilometres and so on. Street View will also be helpful in schools and universities, especially in subjects like Geography. You can check out your home at http://maps.google.co.nz/streetview
Contributed by Anita Jones