Google Maps Street View in South Africa
Update: Street View arrived on 8th June 2010 – take a look at South Africa’s Soccer City World Cup Stadium 2010
Just like a 5yr old kid at Christmas, that is exactly what I looked like as I spotted a very strange looking car with a huge black camera on its roof. My friend looked at me funny as I screamed “Follow that car!”. It became a reality that Google Maps Street View was to arrive in South Africa any time now.
Google has very recently activated the domain name http://maps.google.co.za which conveniently focuses on South Africa (we used to have to go to maps.google.com and drag our way to SA). Google is taking these high quality 360 degree pictures to get street view active for the 2010 world cup.
What is street view?
Street View is available in Google Maps and allows the user to zoom all the way down to street level. At street level the user will see exactly what you may see if standing on the spot. The quality of the footage is super high and can be viewed 360 degrees. You can also navigate along roads as if you were walking or driving down the street.
Can I see street view yet?
Street view is yet to arrive in South Africa but you can take a look at New York to see what it does. Simply find the little yellow man (Pegman) in the zoom bar and drag him onto a point on the map that you want to see at street level. You can than see the high quality street level view. Double click on the arrows to move down the street or double click a “hot spot” to navigate to the area. You can also drag the mouse left or right to rotate your view.
How did they do this?
They use a high quality camera that takes 360° horizontal and 290° vertical panoramic photos. They then send the footage to be pieced together and loaded into Google Maps. Now here is the sad part for me. They blur the faces of people in the cars and streets, I was really hoping to get a shot of me in my 5yr old state of excitement as I took the pics of the Google car. Anyway, they do this for your privacy. Take a behind the scenes tour of Google Street.
Can I benefit from this?
Absolutely, here are a few things you can do to make sure that your company leaves a lasting impression.
- If you have a large area like a theme park, hotel, or other public landmark then you can apply to Google through the Street View Partnership Program to get your location mapped by street view.
- Make sure your signs and logos are visible from the street so that when the Google car passes it can easily take pictures of your company logo etc. (Sorry, if a taxi happens to park in-front of your building when the car passes then you are out of luck). The below picture of the NBC building was taken in New York and it is clear that this advertising will remain on Google Maps for a long long time as the pictures are not updated daily.
- Billboard advertising that is active as the Google car passes will benefit from free advertising for as long as it takes for Google to update the images.
- 2010 visitors will be able to see their location easier so make so your inn or guest lodge is looking spotless from the outside.
Problems we may face in South Africa?
There are some problems that we may experience from this application but the benefits far outweigh the problems.
- The cam sits very high on the top of the car so it may be high enough to peek over your wall and into your garden, this may pose a security risk for some.
- With all the construction going on at the moment my feeling is that we are going to get some very ugly pictures on Google. I really do hope that the Google Car comes back when Johannesburg and other cities are looking at their best and not scared by construction.
I am very excited as South Africa joins the world in this great achievement of mapping the world for all to see. we can only benefit from this, just imagine how easy it is going to be to find the next party or business meeting if you have a visual of what it looks like before you get there.