In 2005, Google launched its downloadable GoogleEarth program allowing people to get a bird’s eye view of Earth.
Folks immediately latched onto it as a way to explore the planet, flying over the Great Pyramids of Egypt or the Grand Canyon.
Today, real estate agents routinely use GoogleEarth and its spinoffs to show houses. Or at least their rooftops and the neighborhoods around them. Tourists can get visual cues for their vacation routes. City planners can sight subdivisions, streets and houses.
And what would your television news programs do without it? They are always showing crime scenes using the tool.
People also use it to look at their homes and their neighborhoods. It allows you to peek over fences that otherwise are obscured. The program allows viewers to pinpoint altitude, longitute and laditude and other neat info. You change the elevation and spin the image around.
Well Google has a new toy available that will radically change all those applications. It’s called Street View and it’s attached to Google Maps.
Some worry their privacy is being violated because images show cars, boats, campers in driveways and garages. Google offers viewers the option of complaining via the “Report a concern” link on the bottom, left corner of every image. Faces routinely are blurred along with vehicle license plates and other images.
But most people simply use the tool for fun. You can check out a park for picnic tables. See if a bicycle rack is within blocks of your destination. Is there a deli near the hotel where you’ll be staying. You get the idea. Click “Learn more” to find tutorials.
It’s easy to use. Go to Google.com and plug in an address with ZIP code.
Then it’s as simple as clicking on the “Street View” thumbnail photo in the balloon. And you will get something like what you see below.
The site allows you to expand the photo and the map in the bottom right-hand corner to fill the page.
Then you can click the white arrows on the photo to navigate around the city.
Use your cursor to drag the little humanoid icon along the map to where you want to go.
The map will change color to show which streets are photo-mapped. Not all of Colorado Springs is available on Street View. The blue area on the map below shows where Street View images exist.
Maybe you are wondering how they do it. They have a fleet of cars equipped with 360-degree cameras. The cars look like this:
You can have some fun with the site. For example, you can get glimpses of the car in action, such as in this shot taken outside The Gazette. The shadow shows the car and camera and makes it obvious the photos were taken not long after dawn.
Or you can determine when photos were taken by clues such as large tents set up on the quad at Colorado College or by using movie theater marquees for tips.
t’s easy to figure that Google’s car was in downtown in February/March 2008 because Kimball’s Twin Peak theater was showing “Brideshead Revisited” and “Mama Mia.”
How do I know when they were showing?
I “Googled” it, of course!