Winnipeg’s on Street View

Controversial Google feature launched here on Tuesday


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Like it or not, Winnipeggers, the world now has an up-close view of your home.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/12/2009 (4643 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Like it or not, Winnipeggers, the world now has an up-close view of your home.

Google Street View launched its street-level pictures of Winnipeg late Tuesday, meaning Internet users can call up pictures of most Winnipeg locations as they appeared last winter/spring. A Google truck with a specialized camera on top toured Winnipeg for six months and photographed every visible street.

Street View lets people see 360-degree photos at street level of any place the Google car has photographed. Viewers can look in any direction, as well as zoom in and out, and "move" down the street to any other street that has been mapped.

The MTS Centre, as captured by Google Street View's cameras.

It’s likely there will be a rush to the keyboards today as Winnipeg residents check their homes on Street View. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Search for any address in Google Maps.
  2. Drag the yellow Street View "pegman" icon onto the map
  3. Use arrows to move along your street, pivot, pan and get close-up views.

Or try it out using the embedded map below, which starts you off at Portage and Main.

An initial reaction of Winnipeggers will likely be that Google cameras caught this city at an unflattering time. A quick scan of prominent Winnipeg locations shows many parts of the city were photographed during late winter and spring, when trees were bare and residents in bulky winter clothing were sloshing through slush.

Google truck with specialized camera.

Google’s massive effort to provide street views of cities around the world has been controversial.

People caught by the cameras in locations that were potentially embarrassing, such as entering a brothel or casino, hollered about invasion of privacy. Street views of initial cities included faces of people who were being arrested, sunbathing, picking their noses and urinating in public.

Google initially defended the images, noting their cameras only took pictures in public places of scenes that can be seen by anyone walking or driving past.

After considerable controversy, though, Google blurred people’s faces and licence plates. If Google happened to miss blurring your face or licence plate when they filmed Winnipeg, you can send in a removal request.

The controversy continues, though. Switzerland’s privacy watchdog announced last month he plans to haul the search engine company before a federal court to force it to make changes to its Street View application because it allows individuals to be identified without their knowledge or consent. The California-based company believes Street View is legal and will "vigorously contest" the case, said Google’s global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer.

Street View began in 2007 in several American cities and Google has since mapped most of the U.S. Some western European cities were added last year, with more to come.

Winnipeg now joins other Street View cities such as Banff, Calgary, Halifax, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Squamish, B.C., Toronto, Vancouver and Whistler.

Although Google Street View Winnipeg just went live Tuesday evening, at least one Winnipegger has been able to identify himself for months using the latest mapping technology.

"It’s kind of cool," said 20-year-old Darren Haber, who is studying at McGill University.

Haber, who has been in Montreal since 2007, was caught on camera while the Street View team filmed in April. He was on his way home from class when he saw the van. Haber said he’s recognizable by his hoodie and the McGill clipboard he’s carrying.

Friends from home had a laugh at his Street View debut, posting questions and congratulations on his Facebook page.

— with files from Associated Press, Jennifer Pawluk

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