On Thursday, 11th March Google will increase availability of its Street View service in Google Maps, by adding new imagery covering almost all of the UK’s roads, both rural and urban.
People will be able to view and explore 360 degree street-level imagery of places as far North as Shetland and as far South as Penzance; from Pembrokeshire in the West of Wales to Ipswich in the East of England or over the sea to Northern Ireland and many places in between. With this imagery update around 238,000 miles of public road are now available in Street View in the UK. Visit maps.google.co.uk.
Google first launched imagery for 25 cities in the UK in March 2009 and since doing so has been working hard to process and stitch together more imagery collected by its cars. By increasing availability to cover almost all of the country, the UK joins countries like Spain, France, Italy and the US, which already enjoy nationwide coverage in Street View.
People can check out a restaurant before arriving, make travel plans, arrange meeting points, get a helping hand with geography homework, or just get to know their town better.
Businesses of any size can make the most of this technology for free by embedding Google Maps into their websites. An owner of a local B&B can promote it to visitors for example, or a local library or restaurant could ensure people can find them on a street level map. Many UK businesses have already benefitted from having Street View technology on their sites, enabling their customers to easily find the information they need.
Street View has already proved both popular and useful across the UK, with more than a 30% sustained increase in Google Maps usage since launch [source: Google Inc.].
Today, new findings from YouGov reveal how people use it in their daily lives. It shows almost two thirds (60%) of people who have used Street View have done so to find out where they’re going and get directions; one third (33%) have used it to look at places in other countries and one in five (21%) have already used it for house-hunting, despite up until now only being available in 25 UK cities [source: YouGov plc, February 2010].
Ed Parsons, Google’s Geospatial Technologist said, “Street View takes mapping to a level not possible before. And with so many practical applications it’s no wonder that over two thirds of people who had tried the service said they would use Street View again. This new imagery of so many stunning British places means it’s the ideal time to start planning a trip, kick start a house-hunt or simply ensure you never arrive late to a meeting again.”
“We are proud to continue our partnership with Google Street View,” says Nigel Lewis, Property Expert at FindaProperty.com. “We have provided the tool to our users since its launch in the UK, and to see it grow into one of the most indispensable tools available to house hunters is fantastic. Giving our users the best tools to assist with their search is fundamental to our site objectives, and Street View enables a more in-depth search experience. To prove its appeal, over 80% of polled FindaProperty.com users said Street View was an important tool in their property buying process.”
Alex Chesterman, CEO of property website Zoopla.co.uk, commented, “Google Street View is a great tool that has been integrated into our website since it first launched. Being able to offer street level imagery for the whole of the UK is an invaluable feature for our users as they search for homes to buy or rent and do their research on current home values and recent sold prices. Zoopla.co.uk is all about providing useful tools to our users help them make better informed property decisions and Google Street View is an important part of that mission.”
Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive, VisitBritain said, “We’re pleased that Google has increased its coverage of places in Britain. Visitbritain.com and Google Street View are increasingly becoming the first places people turn to when planning a visit to one of Britain’s many world-class attractions. Whether it’s shopping or museums; coastal towns or countryside; ancient history or ultra modern architecture, our potential visitors can dip in and find something to inspire them to visit our shores.”
Gordon Butler, founder of FancyaPint.com said, “We provide our site visitors with the best possible information about where they are going to go before they visit and Street View takes this to a new level – it’s practically the next best thing to being there. With our guide and Street View’s imagery, visitors are instantly familiar with their destination the moment they step from the plane, train, bus or taxi. And, now with imagery for so many new places in UK enriching our site even more, we’ve given people yet another reason to use Fancyapint.com.”
Google has gone to great lengths to safeguard privacy while allowing all British users to benefit from this feature. Street View only contains imagery that is already visible from public roads and features technology that blurs both faces and car number plates. Google provides the easily accessible ‘report a problem’ tool for flagging inappropriate or sensitive imagery for review and removal – that includes giving users the choice to remove themselves, their car or their house completely from Street View if they like. Where our blurring tools have missed the odd face or car number plate anybody can report these to us and we’ll apply extra blurring. Google UK has consulted extensively with many privacy and community groups in developing the feature and privacy safeguards.
On Monday 8th March Google revealed the winners of its ‘Britain’s Best Streets Award’ whose aim was to celebrate the country’s best foodie, fashion and most picturesque street. The initial nominations were drawn up by a panel of experts including VisitBritain, TV personalities Julia Bradbury (Countryfile), Jeff Banks (The Clothes Show) and Brix Smith Start (Gok’s Fashion Fix), leading journalists Jo Elvin (Editor, Glamour) and Nicholas Lander (Restaurant Correspondent, Financial Times) and authors David Else (Editor of The Lonely Planet Guide to Great Britain). In all 11,000 people in the UK voted, eventually bestowing the award on Milsom Street, Bath [Best Shopping Street], Stockbridge High St, Hampshire [Best Foodie Street], and the Shambles, York [Most Picturesque Street].
Nicole Vanderbilt, CEO of mydeco.com (whose Street View shopping guide will be available on Thursday)
“We know that Brits love discovering hidden gems when designing and shopping for their home. That’s why excited to have created a special Street View guide so avid shoppers can discover what we, at mydeco.com, think are the best places to do this in the UK. You can check it out here: maps.google.co.uk/streetview”
Leeds University Student Union
“Google Street View is an invaluable tool for students. Whether it is used for scouting out potential accommodation, to checking the route home before a night out – I know thousands of students like myself use Street View on a daily basis to make life that little bit easier.”
Councillor Kate Dean, responsible for Enterprise at Aberdeen City Council:
“Google Street View has enabled tourists to walk down an Aberdeen street on their computers galvanizing them to visit in person. Street View has been a useful tool in promoting Aberdeen and opening up our heritage to a wider audience. We look forward to the surrounding towns and villages appearing on Street View encouraging more people to visit and enjoy the history and architecture, lochs and mountains on our door step.”
Councillor James Alexander, City of York Council:
“After some initial concerns were put to rest, Google Street View has been an invaluable tool used by professionals in York. It is often used by people either moving or thinking of moving home as well as Council staff who look for the physical realities of city strategy concerns received from residents. It has helped me represent residents in a better way by being able to see their physical concerns first hand while talking over the phone and without the need for a site visit. The tool has been invaluable.”
Councillor for Hillhead, Glasgow, Bailie Hanzala Malik
“It’s great news for Glasgow to have so many nominations for these awards because over recent years the city has flourished with a speed and vision that hasn’t been witnessed elsewhere in Britain. The West End in particular is diverse and exuberant, with plenty to offer a very mixed community. If it is judged fairly then I think it will be impossible for Bryers Road or Ruthven Lane to lose.”
Councillor Steve Morphew, Norwich
“I am proud and delighted that Gentleman’s Walk has been recognised by Google as one of the premier fashion streets in the UK. I would like to encourage people not just to enjoy it virtually but come and take a look at it personally as well. It is wide and tree-lined, featuring three department stores, the largest Monday to Saturday market in England, and premier high street fashion names – as well as artwork, coffee shops, an historic arcade and lively street trading.”
Southwold Deputy Mayor, Teresa Baggott
“We do have a fabulous selection of pubs, restaurants and shops. They are all different and this is the appeal. We have thousands of people flock to the town year after year with different budgets. You can get anything in Southwold from a sandwich to a three-course haute cuisine meal. All of our food, beers and wine are of extremely high quality.”