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GoogleStreets on Holiday

03/27/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=&layer=c&ie=UTF8&ll=58.378499,-134.68792&spn=0.044011,0.119133&z=13&cbll=58.382387,-134.686796

While fiddling around with GoogleStreets, I noticed that they had a section of the Alaska panhandle digitized -- specifically the area around Juneau. It's not exactly the most easy place to get to so I was wondering why they would have gone there instead of mapping, say, Seattle.

Well, as far as I can see, whoever is responsible for the mapping went on holiday and took the topography car with them. Yep, it is a car and not a van -- rotate the view down and you can see a standard blue sedan with a roofrack where the camera gear is mounted. I'm just going to call it the GoogleCar from this point on, mostly because I like mid-word capitalization but also since that now seems to be the common terminology. The URL above takes you to the end of one day's mapping as the GoogleCar pulls into the ferry terminal and parks. If you go east down Glacier Highway you'll see it pull in; go west and you'll see a somewhat rarer bit of nighttime photography as it leaves the terminal in the early morning and heads towards Berner's Bay further up the coast, finally pulling into a parking lot next to a harbour.

I'm sure there's a little story here and it's rather fun to play along without having a clue what it actually is. It's also quite interesting, once you realise the GoogleCar appears in the photos, that you can try to reconstruct from its direction and the lighting the sequence of events. Sometimes it's a bit more apparent due to camera distortions such as what appears to be water on the lens for the section in Douglas, south of Juneau (follow the GoogleCar as it heads south east towards Alta Crescent.) Other than a historical record of how various parts of the US looked like when the photos were taken, I'm not sure that the Street View actually does anything useful, but it's definitely an amazing piece of geek-tech.

(Yes, I know it's really only the "Street View" of GoogleMaps but I like the name.)


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