Posted by: Rowan | December 3, 2008

The end of the road

I’m quietly blown away by the extent of the coverage of Google’s street view.

Like everybody else, according to the Facebook chatter, I went and had a look at my own place. And there it was, clear as daylight and exactly as I see it when I turn into my driveway. I half expected to see a big black labrador sneaking off down the road as well, but no. It must have been getting close to dinner time.

Now I live in a smallish town – pop. 2,340 in the 2006 Census – and I live on the outer edge of it. And the street view here is as good as you get for downtown Wellington, so I was quite impressed from the start.

I went and checked out the house in Hawkes Bay that I lived in until I was 2. I typed in the street number and town etc and got a direct hit; there I was standing outside the front gate. Wow.

All of this made me kind of curious about just how far the coverage went. In physics when you want to test whether an equation holds up, it’s really helpful to push variables to zero or infinity and see if the equation still works – test the limits, sort of thing. So I went for the extremes, just to give street view a bit of a workout.

MikeMo’s place! MikeMo’s a mate of mine with a dairy farm out the back of Martinborough … surely that should be a fairly good test. And one that I wasn’t too confident that street view would pass.

And it didn’t, but it got pretty damn close. This is the end of the road, from street view’s point of view. I can see MikeMo’s driveway from here though (and no, it’s not the milk-tanker special on the right). It’s only about 400 metres away. So close … but technically still a fail.

And as fails go – not bad at all, for a fairly extreme test of street view.

Vikram wrote a brain-pausing post on it starting from a privacy point of view, and I’m fairly happy with my own privacy, too. There’s nothing about my place on street view that you can’t see from the street anyway, though admittedly that’s not much.

And like Vikram, I’m a bit blown away too. I did find a hole in the coverage, again through the Facebook chatter; Google has cut off a bit of the southwest corner of Wellington (Island Bay and Owhiro Bay, mainly). But given the extent of the coverage available at go-live you’d expect this to be sorted pretty soon.

And that’s what got me – the sheer scope and quality of the coverage. For street view to get to within 400m of a dairy farm out the back of Martinborough is not something you’d sneeze at. This is some seriously good technology.



  1. Pick your jaw up off the floor. The technology is pretty simple. The *application* of it is what’s impressive, and the lengths Google’s prepared to go to.

  2. Mark as usual your logic is impeccable. I should strictly have said that this is a seriously good application of technology, regardless of its simplicity.

    You’re right.

    Although sometimes I work on the floor so it’s not illogical for my jaw to be down there with me :-)

  3. I think all technology is magic and street view is a particularly impressive specimen. However, where I grew up (the boondocks of Christchurch, Dunstan Crescent to be specific) somehow got missed off the map. What gives?

  4. G’day Rowan

    I work with a guy who lives in Timaru. He works from a home office at the front of his house….and there he is in Streetview, sitting at his desk. At least we now know he’s REALLY there! :-)

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