Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) today began collecting images for Street View in Israel. Google launched the project at press conference outside the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem, in the presence of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Jerusalem will be the first Israeli city in which Google will collect images for Street View. In the coming weeks, Google cars and tricycles will drive through Jerusalem's streets, including the Old City and the Mahane Yehuda open air market. Later, the vehicles will collect images in Tel Aviv, Haifa, along the Kinneret and Dead Sea, Makhtesh Ramon in the Negev, Nazareth, and other towns.
Google launched Street View in 2007, and it is currently available in 30 countries. It allows users to explore virtually and navigate neighborhoods and historical and cultural sites through panoramic street-level images. It is also available in Google Earth and on Google Maps for Mobile.
Street View enables users to virtually navigate along streets, neighborhoods, and historic sites through panoramic images taken by 360-degree cameras, and experience the locales as if they were present there in person.
For Street View, Google applies face-blurring and license plate blurring to protect people's privacy. Once images are available, people will be able to request additional blurring of themselves, their home or their car by clicking on 'report a problem' on the bottom left hand corner of the image.
The times of the image-taking is available at a special website Google Maps - where is Street View. Google's clarifications were made in response to criticism from around the world that the service harmed privacy. Individuals and privacy protection advocates said that the images harmed the privacy of passers-by.
Additional criticism was levied after a flaw in Street View vehicles inadvertently collected data from unsecured mobile networks, including private data of individuals. The flaws were corrected, and Google deleted or transferred most of the images to local authorities.
Google Israel, South Africa & Greece managing director Meir Brand, said, “Jerusalem is a major site of pilgrimage for all three major world religions, and Israel’s cultural and historical heritage touches the lives of billions of people around the world. In a few months time, when the Street View imagery becomes available online, Israel will be on the digital map - and the whole world will be able to see and experience its unique character."
Barkat said, "More than three billion people of faith around the world are interested in Jerusalem and wish to visit at least once in their lifetime. Soon, Jerusalem will join many cities around the world that can be visited virtually." He added, "Since taking office, I have set a goal of reaching 10 million visitors to Jerusalem annually within a decade. Google Street View is an important tool to increase the number of tourists to Jerusalem and to open up the doors of Jerusalem to the entire world."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 12, 2011
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