If you keep a sharp lookout you might catch the Google Street View team driving around a campus near you. This past Wednesday I caught up with the Street View car and the specially modified Google Trike on the campus of Kapiolani Community College.
A couple of years ago, the team was here mapping the main streets on Oahu with the Street View car. With the use of the Trike, the main focus is the pathways of the University of Hawaii campuses. From what I could see the image capture equipment looked similar to the system on the car. The system is mounted on a fairly large tricycle. The camera system is powered by a gasoline powered generator but the trike is purely people powered.
In an email response to a question I posed about availability of maps, Google’s public affairs office told me that:
Our Street View trikes have special cameras that take photographs as thee operator pedals along. Once the photographs have been taken, they go through computer processing to make them ready for use on Google Maps. This includes stitching the photographs into 360-degree panoramic images and cutting-edge face blurring technology, which helps make sure that passers-by in the photographs can’t be identified and blurs legible license plates.
Once we’ve collected and processed the imagery for an area, we add it to Google Maps. It goes without saying, therefore, that the imagery isn’t real-time, and usually takes several months from when the photographs are taken until the panoramics appear on Google Maps.
The Street View team is mapping all the community colleges as well as the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus. The Google car and trike then head off to the neighbor islands to map out the UH campuses there.
As I started to leave a crowd began to form around the Google Trike to snap some photos. It is an interesting time for Google. Their popularity is undeniable but places like Germany and Japan are reacting vocally against their lost of privacy resulting from the Street View images. Yesterday a Federal judge said Google could be held liable for ‘wiretapping” for collecting wifi data on Street View runs. And on top of all this is the Federal Trade Commissions investigation of Google for antitrust business practices.
Someone once told me, “you know you’re successful when everyone wants to sue you. Just take a number and stand in line.”