Google Map’s Street View service has officially launched in Canada and includes sidewalk-level images of Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Banff, Calgary, Kitchener/Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec. Vancouver’s coverage also includes Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey, and all Metro Vancouver cities as far East as Chilliwack.
This morning at the launch we got the full rundown of the service, its privacy measures, and how the City of Vancouver, Tourism BC, and other partners such as ChicWalks will integrate Street Views.
Here’s how it works: Basically the Google car drives around cities with a big camera on top and snaps images to map street-level views. The images from Vancouver were taken in May and they’re currently mapping other cities across BC. There have been privacy concerns in the past such as: what if street views catches my car running a red light or what if it captures someone where they weren’t supposed to be? To address this, Google Maps has blurred all faces and license plates in Street View. They also only take pictures in public locations and offer up a super simple way to report an issue if you’d like something removed.
Mike Pegg, Product Marketing Manager (and Google Maps blogger) was on hand to moderate the panel and introduce Luc Vincent. Also from Google Maps, Vincent gave us a full run through of features. This included finding our current location, getting walking directions (with views along the way) and understanding that the circular and square highlights on the view are referred to as “pancakes” and “waffles”. Even Pegman was on hand to greet the crowd.
William Bakker from Tourism BC did a demo of their HelloBC.com Google Map integration as well. The tool, new to the Province, will assist in “virtual tourism” as many people plan and plot their trips online in advance.
Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson was also on hand to say a few words about Vancouver’s sites and images, mostly including Vancouver 2010 Olympic venues such as Canada Hockey Place and the Four Host First Nations site. Mike Pegg assured everyone that buildings and venues that are currently under construction for 2010 will be re-captured/re-mapped once complete.
Google Maps Street View is currently mapping other cities in British Columbia such as Cranbrook, Gold River, Kamloops, Kimberly, Merritt, Pemberton, Port Hardy, Prince George, Prince Rupert, and Revelstoke.