Search engine Google are at pains to assure people their privacy is being fully protected when the search engine launched its new Irish Street View facility on Thursday last.
This Street View facility allows Internet or smart phone users to view streets, roads, houses and buildings throughout the State. The images showing were gathered by cameras on Google’s specially adapted vehicles which have travelled 82,000km (51,000 miles) around the country since March 2009.
The service, which originally began with five US cities in 2007 and now includes 25 countries, allows users to switch to a panoramic street level view, moving up and down streets with the double click of a mouse. It is an without doubt an exhilarating slice of real science fiction and the initial impact on individuals when it went live on Thursday last was to check what their house looked like. Here in Thurles the images show details of real everyday urban life and footage were obviously captured about the time of the last Urban District and County Council elections. This facility is likely to encourage business and private property owners alike, to ensure that building facades are in future kept clean, inviting and attractive.
Ireland is the 25th country to launch Street View and no doubt this facility will be of particularly interest to tourists checking out an area in advance, before booking their accommodation and also for prospective house buyers looking at an area’s amenities if not the proposed house to be purchased.
The “Street View Ireland” facility in general is currently available on maps.google.com. You can view Thurles hereunder and do click on View Larger Map under the image for best quality image clarity.
However, concerns have been expressed that it could also breach people’s privacy. For example there are fears that criminals could use it to target houses for burglary. Other countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Greece have been critical of the overall project. However Goggle’s exactness in blurring faces and car number plates, should eliminate most peoples privacy concerns.
Launching the new service,Thurles born Minister for Tourism, Mary Hanafin said that ‘Street View’ had “huge potential” for Irish tourism, and also for business and education. However Thurles people might not agree fully with this statement since (Google Please take note) St.Mary’s Lane between Kickham Street and Mitchel Street which incorporates St.Mary’s Famine and War Museum has once again been overlooked. Still Fáilte Ireland doesn’t acknowledge we exist so why should Google.
The initiative is fully supported by Fáilte Ireland, the Arts Council, and various property websites. Fáilte Ireland plans to have it available on touch screens in all its tourist offices and regard it as the best form of free advertising that any country can enjoy.
The programme contains imagery that for the most part is already visible from public roads and it displays footage that is taken at a particular point in time and does not display live images. Over all Thurles, which represents a true, hidden, unspoiled Ireland, will welcome this new initiative.