Last year Google Maps added an extra feature called Street View. Photos were taken at different angles to allow people to see an almost 360º view of an area almost as if they were there. To do this camera cars were driven round areas taking photos, but photos were taken only from the roads with car access so there would be no panoramic views of a park, but maybe Google will allow the public to add these views at a later date.
At the moment Japan, USA, France and Australia have been photographed, but others including New Zealand should be up and running in the near future.
When you open Google Maps, the Street View button is the first button at the top when over an area that has been photographed.
When you click on the button part of the map turns blue, which indicates which streets are covered by Street View. When trying this on locations in the USA which have already been photographed intensively it is not very clear as the whole map can turn blue and the blue ‘Street View’ streets do not line up with the streets on the map being offset considerably. This also makes it hard to read names on the map when zoomed out, but they become clearer as you zoom in. When zoomed in at the level Street View actually works a little orange man appears, you can then move the man to the location you want to view. Because a photo is not taken every metre your little man may jump from where you just deposited him to the closest photo that covers that area. You can also just click on the map when the orange man appears.
I do not know what impact this is going to have on real estate here as you may drop the man at the house you want to look at, but he jumps metres down the road and the house you are interested in is not shown clearly. So is there going to be some people who are going to ignore houses they cannot see clearly in Street View or ignore whole streets that are not covered; if they are not good enough for Street View to consider photographing they are not good enough for me. In nearly 80% of photos, back sections will not be visible. There is also the issue of high fences. Are people going to gravitate towards houses with high fences, as their privacy is maintained, as the house cannot be seen on Street View?
There is also an outcry against Street View, as some groups maintain that a burglar can use Street View to scan for suitable homes to rob by browsing a street and they have not had to leave their home or been seen by anyone acting suspiciously.
It seems a good idea in theory, but it may backfire with some people being prejudiced about homes not being visible, seeing a rundown house with cars dumped in the garden, which has now been cleaned up and repaired, and seeing something that catches their eye, which existed at the time the photo was taken, but now is long gone.