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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Google Street View Launches in Australia


Google Australia today announced the launch of Street View for Australia: http://maps.google.com.au/help/maps/streetview/.

Street View is a new feature for Google Maps that enables users to view and navigate 360 degree street-level imagery of Australia's cities, towns, regional and remote areas, in all 8 States and Territories.

By clicking on the "Street View" button in Google Maps, users can check out a restaurant before arriving, make travel plans, arrange meeting points, save time at open houses on Saturday morning, or just explore both well-known and isolated parts of the continent.

More than 50 US cities and the route of the 2008 Tour de France are presently visible in Street View, first launched in May 2007 and hugely popular worldwide. With today's announcement, Australia is one of the very first countries explorable via Street View on Google Maps.

Andrew Foster, Product Manager at Google Australia, commented: "Google Maps has its origins as an Australian invention so we're thrilled to bring Street View here as one of the first countries in the world. A lot of remote and regional Australia is now available to explore virtually - Tom Price, Gundagai, Longreach, Esperance, and so much more. Street View will allow people to visit places in Australia they may not have had a chance to experience before."

"Google Maps and Google Earth are incredibly popular with Australians and are used by Governments, businesses and individuals as essential and informative tools every day of the week. Street View provides an added experience by enabling users to see street-level panoramas of Australia's public roads, including dusty outback highways, tropical northern beach roads and major city arteries".

Tourism Australia has selected a gallery of Street View images, available at http://maps.google.com.au/help/maps/streetview/ that showcases some of Australia's best tourist attractions and locations to the world. Many other Australian organisations have already identified significant opportunities for Street View to be used in travel, tourism, house buying and renting, education and helping make small businesses easier to find.

To coincide with the launch, Google and the Sun Herald City2Surf today launched a "flipbook" video, which uses still images from Street View to create a video of the race route, taking place in Sydney on Sunday 10 August 2008. This is the first time in the world that a fun run has made a video of its course using Street View images. Runners can visualise the route and spectators can find the best vantage point in Sydney to cheer on their friends, co-workers and relatives. The video is available on YouTube here and will be on city2surf.sunherald.com.au.

Google has gone to great lengths to safeguard privacy while allowing all Australians to benefit from this feature. Street View only contains imagery that is already visible from public roads. In Australia, Street View features technology that blurs identifiable faces. In addition, any user can easily flag for removal images that he or she considers inappropriate by clicking on "Street View Help". Google Australia has consulted extensively with many privacy and community groups in developing the feature and privacy safeguards. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner supports Google's approach to provide face blurring and an image removal process where individuals request this.

The original Google Maps prototype was invented by 4 engineers in Sydney: Lars Rasmussen, Jens Rasmussen, Noel Gordon and Stephen Ma, all of whom still work in Google's Sydney engineering centre. All over the country, Australians use Google Maps to find addresses and local businesses, see satellite imagery, obtain driving directions, create and share personalised maps, making it the most popular online maps site in Australia, according to Nielsen NetRatings (June 2008).

Thoughts on Street View:

Tourism Australia Managing Director, Mr Geoff Buckley (www.australia.com), said "Travellers to Australia often have a high awareness of Australia as a country but are interested in learning as much as they can about us before they come. Our target market, who we call Experience Seekers, are interested in connecting with our people, lifestyle and environment and want to experience the best that a destination has to offer. Street View will offer them a whole new way to research Australia as a holiday destination and will help them plan their trips by taking in-depth virtual tours – not only of our cities but of many regional areas and places off the beaten track. Street View is going to make Australia more accessible by giving people a glimpse of what we have to offer and it will be just the start of the journey of discovery."

Noel Dyett, President of the Real Estate Institute of Australia (www.realestatefind.com.au) said "Street View will save Australians time in the house buying or renting process, and will provide useful added information to inform their decisions. Street View enables consumers to plan and select the right properties to visit, and check out the location of nearby public transport, parks and facilities. Real estate agents will also welcome the ability to incorporate Street View on their websites to provide an additional resource for buyers and renters."

Nick Hutchinson, Chairperson of the Australian Geography Teachers Association (www.agta.asn.au), said "Educators in Australia are embracing online technology more and more, to bring classes and lessons to life. Many schools and Universities already actively use Google Earth to help students explore the world and spark curiosity. With Street View, students will now be able to experience and study interesting or remote Australian areas that they would never see otherwise. This will be a great addition to many classrooms and many school curricula."

Simon Dulhunty, editor of The Sun-Herald (city2surf.sunherald.com.au), said "This year the Sun-Herald City2Surf has announced a variety of exciting new highlights from our Expo to ChampionChip technology. We are now also proud to announce that we will debut as the first foot-race in the world to launch a video based on images from Google Street View. With the help of Street View, this year's Sun-Herald City2Surf runners can take a virtual tour of the course before race day. Mapping from Hyde Park to Heartbreak Hill to Bondi Beach, the "flipbook" video will also allow spectators to find vantage points and give City2Surf Charity Challenge supporters the opportunity to see what runners will tackle on Sunday."

About Google Inc.
Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google's targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit www.google.com.

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