Google Maps (along with its predecessor Mapquest) have changed the way we drive, with on-demand customized directions. Now it can even change the way we look at our built environment, with its new Street View feature.
Street View allows users to geographically browse through Google’s vast collection of 360-degree street-level photos. Nearly every building in America now has a browseable photo of it. It’s basically like taking a walk down any street in America.
For a while Street View has been available only in large cities, but the database has expanded outwards from there. Now Street View is available all across Michiana. Photos of your house, from two or three angles, is now Googlable.
Privacy advocates may shudder, but this service certainly makes giving directions much easier. You don’t have to say, “It’s the 12th house on the right, the one with a door and windows.” You’d just include a link to your house on Street View.
Even better though, is that cyclists can now get a good sense of what a road looks like before finding themselves on it. I think this will be a big help to the Michiana Bike Map project, for example. It can often be difficult to picture in your head what a certain road on a map looks like in person, but Street View makes that conceptual leap trivial.