Google scans Whitehorse streets

Whitehorse's Main Street, circa July 2009, will soon be visible to anyone with an internet connection.

Whitehorse’s Main Street, circa July 2009, will soon be visible to anyone with an internet connection.

Google Street View, an online map service allowing virtual street-level navigation, will soon be adding Whitehorse to its roster of archived metropolises.

Launched in 2007, Street View has already conducted street-level scans in 31 countries around the world.

A red Chevrolet Cobalt fitted with a mast of cameras and equipment was spotted cruising Whitehorse city streets last weekend.

The sightings come as a bit of a surprise.

Google has announced Street View scans of Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and 11 other Canadian cities – but Whitehorse was never listed in its official plans.

Street View typically uses local drivers because they know the area best, reported Nova Scotia’s Pictou County News on Wednesday.

Google car sightings have also been rampant in central Nova Scotia throughout the past week.

All the car has to do is drive; GPS positioning and a nest of cameras does the rest.

Online, the images are seamlessly blended together, providing users with a virtual 360-degree tour.

Street View’s Canadian ambitions initially met with scrutiny from federal privacy officials.

“I am concerned that, if the Street View application were deployed in Canada, it might not comply with our federal privacy legislation,” wrote Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart in an August 2007 letter to Google.

In response, Google officials promised to blur out faces and licence plates from all of its Canadian scans before putting them online.

Google has also agreed to blot out, on request, any images of individuals, “their children, their cars or their houses,” states the Street View home page.

Last year, British tabloids reported that a UK woman filed for divorce after checking Google Street View and seeing her husband’s car parked outside the home of her best friend.

In Australia, the system photographed a man drunkenly passed out on his mother’s lawn.

In Amsterdam, Google Street View captured an image of a cyclist being tailed by two men. Moments after the car passed, the cyclist was mugged.

Images from Street View are now being used by Dutch police as part of a criminal investigation.

In typical Google fashion, the $28-billion search engine company has vowed to continue expanding the service until it has covered “the entire world.”

Contact Tristin Hopper at

tristinh@yukon-news.com

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