Natural Search Blog


Text In Street View Could Be Used For Quality Improvement

Philipp Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped observes that Google could potentially use OCR (optical character recognition) to attempt to derive text from signage and such within Google Street View images in order to create further enhancements.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Street View
, Los Angeles.

However, I see a much more immediately valuable use that could be put to text scanned from the images — quality improvement of address pinpointing functionality. (more…)

Google Street View Attacked As Potential Tool For Child Predators

The Stop Child Predators organization has launched a campaign specifically targeting Google’s Street View as a tool that potentially enables predators to stalk and kidnap children more effectively.

Kids at the Park in Google Street View, San Jose
Kids playing at a park in Google Street View

A video on the site presents Stacie Runemap, Executive Director of the organization, outlining how Street View shows pictures of neighborhoods, homes, playgrounds, schools and pics of kids. She further describes how Google Maps can be used to plot distances from your doorstep to bus stops and schools, suggesting that child predators could use the service to plan attacks or kidnappings. The site elsewhere describes how to request that Google remove photos from Street View. (more…)

Town Forces Google To Remove Pics From Street View

North Oaks, a small town in Minnesota, demanded that Google remove pictures of the town from Street View service.

North Oaks - end of the line for Google Street View
(click to enlarge)
(map link)

The town apparently has a strong desire to remain private, and since most streets in it are privately owned, they threatened Google with trespassing citations if the pics weren’t removed.

I’m surprised they would attempt to use a trespassing citation for this, since it seems a little bit odd to have open streets for people to drive along, ungated, even with the “No Trespassing” signs. I would think a more viable claim would be copyright infringement since the town might claim that buildings or streets were marked as private, or if they charge some sort of entry fee for vehicles passing through. A similar claim is apparently possible if one takes photos of buildings/places for which admission fees are charged to see/enter — reselling such photos or making money off of them in some way is apparently actionable under copyright law.

Privacy groups have complained about Google Street View since it was introduced, and Google recently responded by initiating the use of software which blurs individuals’ faces in the streetview pics.

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Interesting Sights To See In Google Street View

Be sure to check out my collection of cool sights in Street View over at Search Engine Land today.

While the piece is strictly fluffy, it does cover a wide range of pictures that illustrate why people are concerned about privacy with the utility along with why it’s cool and fun to have.

Here’s my favorite pic from the set – a photo that captured a bit of skywriting:

Love Is In The Air

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