It's caused excitement, its caused awe, and it's caused controversy, but Google Street View has definitely made its mark on the virtual community. Giving users the ability to view pretty much any location in near photographic detail using the interface via Google Maps is definitely a huge leap forward in technology, but does it show too much? This is the question currently being asked throughout the UK, with huge differences in opinion from various sources.
A lot of people hold Street View in the same light that they would hold a new camera great for an initial poke about, but then not really used unless necessary. However, some people are saying it's the equivalent of giving a would be burglar your address and house key; a free to use service enabling others to literally find out the car someone drives, the best places to hide on a property and even, in some cases, a bird eye view through the living room curtains. Of course, number plates and people's faces have been blurred out, but some are angered by what is being termed a lack of privacy and of course the fact no permission has been sought from car/home owners to publish these images on the World Wide Web!
There is no doubt that Google's ability to undertake this immense task has definitely put their name in the news and there are instances when this will be useful; tourists going to London, for example, will be able to see what key landmarks look like before they even arrive in the country. Those travelling to places they need directions for, such as for a business meeting, should be able to see the building in greater detail and therefore not get lost as easily. However, seen as the data is obviously not kept updated in real time (what a job that would be!), it will not always be accurate.
So, do the benefits of Street View outweigh the bad press it is receiving? Those of use who may find the service useful will probably be in the 'good' camp, but there are many who would prefer it if quite so much detail wasnt shown online where anyone can access it. However, as gimmicks go, it's a very clever one, and Google has certainly pulled a blinder when it comes to catching the attention of the public! If nothing else, traffic figures for Google Maps must be on a very high level, and perhaps even more to come in the future if Google accesses more remote locations that are popular tourist locations (the white cliffs of Dover, for example).
Google has stated that anybody who wants their house removed or blurred only has to contact them, but if they receive a lot of requests, how quick a process is this likely to be? And will doing this negate the point of the service in the first place? It really does seem to be a case of 'watch this space'.