Last week Google made front page news with the revelation that its StreetView mapping cars had hit the roads of UK cities.
For those of you who don’t know what Google StreetView is, it is the 360 degree photographing of urban layouts to produce a complete online photographic record of any given point within the StreetView map network.
Currently, a host of cities in the US and France have been photo-mapped and uploaded to the Google Maps website, allowing any internet user to view any street included in the network at any time.
With the arrival of the mapping cars in the UK, the same visual access to our streets is imminent and this has resulted in the previously mentioned front page headlines. Privacy campaigners are appalled by the StreetView concept and they argue that it is a massive invasion of people’s privacy.
However, Google has responded by saying it will blur the faces of anyone captured on film and that it will abide by all relevant UK laws.
So are the privacy issues really a concern?
I don’t believe so. Our identities will not really be betrayed by StreetView and while the opponents do have some valid points, I strongly believe that the positives significantly outweigh the negatives.
One quick test of the new application and the fantastic potential of StreetView leaps out at you. I found myself looking at US cities to get a flavour of whether they would be interesting to visit in person. So this technology is a great way to research potential holiday destinations or even to research home purchases. It can also be used to locate sites or to visualise journey routes.
And of course the potential going forward is immense. An interactive feature could expand the possibilities vastly, while StreetView could even become a totally new concept in communication.
As long as the understandable privacy issues are fully respected then I believe StreetView will be an exciting addition to the ever expanding potential of the internet.
One more thought. Whatever happens with the development of this technology, what is sure is that companies employing it will have to ensure that they have the server power to support it.
Increasingly companies are turning to dedicated server solutions to meet increased processing requirements. As a global leader Google will undoubtedly be running its StreetView technology on dedicated servers, so those looking to capitalise on the exciting new potential should definitely consider a dedicated server solution.