Explained: What is Google Street View and why has it launched in India now?

Google Street View is finally available for ten cities in India and is expected to be rolled out in about 50 other cities by the end of the year. Google Maps’ 360-degree interactive panorama feature has been available since 2007 in cities across 100 countries. In India, unlike other markets, Google Street View is powered by third-party images as per National Geospatial Policy, 2021.

What is Google Street View?

Google Street View is an immersive 360-degree view of a location captured with special cameras mounted on vehicles or backpacks by data collectors moving through the city streets. The images are then patched together to create a 360-degree view that users can swipe through to get a detailed view of the location. It is available to watch on Android and iOS using the app, or as a web view.

Why was Street View not enabled in India?

In 2011, Bangalore’s city policy stopped capturing images for Google Street View. While there was no clarity as to exactly why the policy stopped capturing data, Google didn’t move forward with the product in India after that, even as local companies like Wonobo and MapMyIndia came up with their own versions of immersive visual maps of some Indian cities.

How has Street View launched in India now?

Under the National Geospatial Policy 2021, Indian companies can collect map data and license it to others. Following this, Google teamed up with Mumbai-based Tech Mahindra and Genesys International to initially enable Street View for 10 Indian cities. This is the first time Google has worked with partner data to enable this feature. In India, the data will be collected and owned by these partners.

Are there any restrictions on Street View in India?

Street View is not allowed in India for restricted areas such as government buildings, defense facilities and military areas. This means that in a place like Delhi, the canton area is not accessible to Street View.

How does Street View help users?

While Google Maps allows users to map out a route and see its satellite view, it often doesn’t give a clear picture of road conditions. With Street View, users can see exactly what a new destination looks like and even explore local businesses before going there.

What were the problems with Street View?

Over the years, many privacy and other issues have been raised regarding Street View. Much of this comes from people’s faces and other recognizable aspects, such as license plates and house numbers, which are captured by the camera and misused in various ways. There have also been security concerns about the availability of these types of views, especially for sensitive locations.

Along with India, Google has had issues with local authorities in countries like Austria, Australia, and Germany, though it has bounced back in most of these locations.

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