Watch out because Google’s about

DERRY is the target for the latest updating by Google of its Street View programme for the internet.

The distinctive Street View cars – with a camera mounted to the roof by a tri-pod - have been seen all over the city this week, taking new high resolution pictures to enhance the panoramic images available on the Google Maps and Google Earth programs.

Street View caused a stir when it was first launched back in 2007, with some unsuspecting members of the public being captured at places where perhaps they shouldn’t have been.

But it remains a very popular feature of the Google Maps programme – even if few people use it for anything other than looking up their own front door.

A spokesperson for Google said they were constantly updating the images for their Google Maps and Google Earth programmes.

“We can’t go into the details or driving schedules as this can change based on a number of conditions,” she said.

“But we can confirm that we update out imagery to Street View from time to time.”

The entire city of Derry has already been covered by Street View and the new higher resolution pictures being taken at the moment will be available soon.

Street View was originally launched in May 2007 but limited to just a handful of cities in the United States.

It was expanded to cover other cities around the world and also rural areas. Google use snowmobiles or special Google Trikes to access areas they can’t reach by car.

Each vehicle has nine different directional cameras which take 360 degree views from a height of eight feet.

Google is currently using its new fourth generation cameras to take more detailed higher resolution pictures than in earlier versions.

The first countries outside America to be included were France and Italy in 2008, showing parts of the route of the Tour de France.

The United Kingdom and Ireland followed shortly afterwards and both countries have been covered in their entirety.

But there have been privacy issues in some countries and Google have had to use face-blurring technology on the photographs to protect people’s identities.

Google is temporarily banned from taking new pictures in Austria and from the Czech Republic while they have cancelled operations in Australia after investigations by the authorities into privacy issues.