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Google Maps Archive
In Switzerland, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is required to remove people’s faces and license plates from their Street View service. This is similar to the “blurry” Street View that rolled out in Germany late last year. In speaking with a colleague located in Switzerland, Google removes 98% of the faces and plates using an algorithym.
Today privacy advocates in Switzerland are jumping for joy as the Federal Administrative Court has required Google to remove all of the people’s faces and license plates, even if it means using humans to do so. 20 Minuten Online has all of the details (translated link). From 20 Minuten Online, “The focus is the duty of Google, on people’s faces and license plates to make manual completely unrecognizable. Currently, according to Federal data protection, only about 98 percent of all the faces are blurred automatically.”
The other big news is that Google is required to take out local ads letting residents know when the Google Street View car will be coming through their town or village. 20 Minutes Online notes, “It is not permitted by court also insight into the courtyards and gardens, the sight of a “normal passer” would remain closed.”
I am currently looking for a new residence and since I am new to town, I’ve found Google Street View to be a huge asset. I can “browse” the neighborhood and see what the homes and business look like. It’s helped me eliminate many a house whereas looking at the owner’s photos provided a very different experience.
My friends and colleagues in Germany and France are constantly talking about how the government views online privacy. Could these two countries be next to follow Switzerland in the blocking of faces and license plates?
By now ya’all know that I love public transportation. One of the areas I like in the tech area regarding public transportation is watching all of the map mashups that have been launched over the past couple of years. I’ve written about the BusTime testing in NYC, the live London train map and the real-time Swiss train mashup. Four years ago I wrote about how tourists should consider taking the bus – it’s often overlooked in cities that offer a subway system.
Today I’ve learned about a new Google Maps mashup using bus data from the TFL in London. It’s called the London BusMapper and the developers describe the service as, “Can’t figure out which bus to take in London?Click on 2 points on the map and we’ll tell you!”
It’s really that easy to use the London BusMapper – just click on any two points in London on the map and it will show you all of the routes that get you from point A to point B. What’s really neat is that it shows you routes that start and end near your location so you can make the choice that works best overall.
The London BusMapper was developed by Mattias, Azmat and Ben Dowling. The team is actively encouraging suggestions on what features to build into the London BusMapper. So far the most popular suggestions include: creating a mobile version, time per route option, and to make sure the system takes into account any diversions for construction, etc.
As many regular CN readers know, I am a huge fan of public transit. One of my friends in Germany has been taunting me over the past week that today I would be able to virtually travel on the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal, Germany. I call this transit system the, “upside down subway” because unlike a normal train that travels on tracks below the carriage, the Schwebebahn travels with a track above the train carriage.
I was very excited to check out the first link my friend sent me for the Schwebebahn on Google Street View. So I clicked his link and what did I find — a great photo of the Wuppertal wrapped and then a huge blurry box on the left.
The Street View program began a German roll out earlier this month in Oberstaufen. Apparently Wuppertal is one of 20 cities that are live today on Google Maps Street View. Other cities launching today include Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. Melissa Eddy from the AP notes, “The company said it hired 200 specially trained employees to handle the concerns, going so far as to leave entire blocks of pictures out when it was impossible to determine which house was to be pixelized.”
My favorite blurry image is of the Google Munich office – it’s not blurry because Google wanted it blurry – it’s because another tenant in the building wanted it removed.
If you are a regular CN reader, you know that I am a railfan and a big fan of public transportation. We’ve covered real-time transit maps from around the world. My favorite up until today was the Swiss train map mashup — the map shows you where all of the trains in Switzerland are in real-time.
We’ve seen other cities including NYC, Boston and Philly get in on the real-time craze. NYC has a bus tracker on the M34 and M16 lines in midtown Manhattan and Philly is running a real-time test of a bus tracker.
Today, some developers in London, my second favorite transit system, launched a real-time transit tracker. The Google Maps mashup shows trains in the London Underground (also known as the Tube) in real-time. I’ve included a screenshot below. Yellow markers are stations and red markers are moving trains. Note that London’s transit system doesn’t run overnight so there won’t be any markers if you look during the overnight hours.
The code for the mashup is available as open source on GitHub. Here’s the overview of how the system works, “Live departure data is fetched from the TfL API, and then it does a bit of maths and magic. It’s surprisingly okay given this was done in only a few hours at Science Hackday and the many naming/location issues encountered, some unresolved. A small number of stations are misplaced or missing; occasional trains behave oddly; some H&C stations are missing in the TfL feed.”
It’s awesome to see so many transit systems embracing new technology and encouraging developers and entrepreneurs to get involved. Many of the world’s top transit systems seemed to move so slowly for decades but in the last 12-18 months, there has been a rapid pace to involve the local communities. This new London Underground real-time map is now my favorite Google Maps mashup – I hope one day we will see NYC host something similar.
Swiss blogger and sometimes CN contributor Corsin Camichel noted this morning that Google Maps Navigation is now available in a variety of countries in Europe. The country list includes: France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. Corsin has more plus photos from the Google Maps Navigation on his HTC Desire Android phone.
Last week Bing announced that their Bing Maps with turn-by-turn directions was available on a variety of handsets. I downloaded the application but it took so long to load on my Samsung Ace that I could have easily walked to my desired destination in a shorter amount of time. I can’t really blame Bing…my device has GPS built-in but in 3 years I’ve only been able to get it to work twice.
Let’s hope the navigation is better than what’s shown in Corsin’s test photos from his handset. As you can see below, Google suggests you drive right into the heavy bush and their navigation might involve taking a ferry.
What this means is if you use Google Buzz for Mobile, you can select to share your location when you make posts on Google Buzz. Those posts will include geo-location data which will then show up on Google Maps. To view the Google Buzz content on Google Maps, you will need to add the layer inside of Google Maps.
I wonder what percentage of Google Buzz users are using the mobile service – no one I know (outside of tech bloggers wanting some hits) uses Google Buzz even on the desktop.
I love Google’s example of this new interactivity!
Earlier today I wrote about the new MTA real-time bus API which allows developers to pick up real-time locations for two bus routes in NYC. I noted in the post that I was hoping that someone would create a mashup with Google Maps where you can see the bus locations on a map and the map would be in real-time.
Well, it’s no Twitter app…but the live MTA bus tracker is now running! It’s called NYCT Bus Time and has two options: a display that matches the display at the actual bus stops and the live map where you can watch the M16 and M34 buses move along 34th street in Manhattan.
On the live map (static version shown below), you can see each of the bus stops indicated with red dots along with the buses moving along the street. The bus number is also displayed.
Interestingly I wonder if this new live bus tracker will remove the need for the MTA employees that sit around NYC writing down what time a bus reaches a certain stop point.
SEPTA (that’s Philly’s transit system) is also running a demo of their real-time bus tracker.