Google Streetview to cover every UK road
Published 10/03/2010 | 10:00
Google's controversial mapping service will soon cover 238,000 miles of the UK's roads.
Pictures of nearly every street in the country, from the Shetlands to Penzance, are to be made available via Google.
From Thursday, the search giant’s Streetview technology will feature 360-degree images of more than 99pc of the United Kingdom’s roads, both rural and urban, covering a total of approximately 238,000 miles.
The company launched Streetview in 25 UK cities in March last year - about 12pc of Britain's streets and roads - and since then has been working on surveying the rest of the country using specially designed cars fitted with cameras.
Hard to access areas have been captured using tricycles. The entirety of Spain, France, Italy and the USA is already covered.
Although the technology has proved controversial, with some villages, such as Broughton in Buckinghamshire, so concerned that they asked the company’s vehicles to leave, its release has not led to the crimewave that some analysts predicted.
The company’s drivers reported that the biggest challenge they faced came from the British weather, rather than from hostile residents.
Google uses automatic technology to blur faces and car number plates, and allows users to request that their property be removed from the service. Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has asked for his house to be taken off the site, for instance.
Inappropriate material can also be reported, although a number of unfortunate images, including fights and people in allegedly compromising situations, have already been published.
A survey commissioned by Google from polling company YouGov indicated that Streetview’s launch has coincided with a 30pc increase in people using the website’s mapping technology, available at maps.google.co.uk.
Six out of ten of those users had consulted Streetview to find out what a place they were going looked like, while one-third had used it to look at locations abroad and 21pc had used it to help while house hunting.
Sandie Dawe, the chief executive of the official website to promote UK tourism, VisitBritain.com, welcomed the launch of the nationwide service.
She said that Streetview was one of the “first places people turn to when planning a visit to one of Britain's many world-class attractions.”
Future applications for Streetview technology could include shopping; cameras have already been spotted photographing American supermarkets.