Microsoft drives Streetside mapping into the UK

Microsoft drives Streetside mapping into the UK

Summary: The Bing Maps rival to Google Street View has arrived in London, where Navteq cars have started collecting street-level photos as well as location and landmark data

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Microsoft has started taking photos in London for Streetside, its Bing Maps photo feature that will go up against Google Street View in the UK.

The Streetside feature will display street-level images collected using a 360-degree camera, the company said on Tuesday. Mapping specialist Navteq — which is wholly owned by Nokia — has partnered with Microsoft and is providing the cars to take the 360-degree photos. As well as collecting images, Navteq will gather point-of-interest data such as where landmarks or pubs are located and other road and location information.

Microsoft Streetside Navteq

Microsoft Streetside will display street-level, 360-degree images, using Navteq's cars, seen here at Nokia World. Photo credit: Ben Woods

The Streetside cars have begun driving round densely populated urban areas such as London and will move on to other towns and cities across the UK, Microsoft said.

"Users should begin seeing [UK] images on Bing Maps from around the first or second week of May, depending on the weather and other factors," a spokesman for the company told ZDNet UK.

In order to respect individuals' privacy, Streetside will blur faces and vehicle number plates. Users can also flag any images they think are inappropriate for removal.

"We accept requests to blur or remove images of faces or persons, homes, cars, acts of violence, nudity and unlawful material," Microsoft said in a statement. "Depending on the content of the pictures we may remove it entirely, blur a portion of it or take no action if no identifying features remain visible."

Google has run into privacy-related problems in Germany over gathering images for Street View, and it has come under fire from privacy authorities worldwide over the collection of private Wi-Fi data by Street View cars. In November, the Information Commissioner's Office found Google was in "significant breach" of data laws when it harvested emails and passwords from unsecured networks.

Microsoft will begin collecting Streetside data in France, Germany and Spain, "soon after" the UK, the company said. Streetside launched for Bing Maps in the US at the end of 2009, and the feature currently covers 56 cities there.


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Topic: Apps

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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6 comments
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  • Google certainly did NOT blur the classic 'white on black' number plate on my car.
    AndyPagin-3879e
  • Can anyone explain to my why such a 'service' should be duplicated at huge expense? For me, it defies common sense.

    Microsoft frequently come late to the party, but why oh why are they interested in this party.

    Sure, I know some of the answers, but I still think it defies common sense. If they've got money swilling about, use it for something more constructive that their customer's might appreciate.
    The Former Moley
  • @Moley

    > Microsoft frequently come late to the party, but why oh why are they
    > interested in this party.

    Microsoft released a "technical preview" of Streetside view more than a year before Google launched Streetview, so it has been involved in this area for quite a while. Otherwise, you might well ask Google why it creates so many knock-offs of other people's products, though I guess this wouldn't fit your anti-Microsoft agenda. Personally, I think competition is a good thing....
    Jack Schofield
  • Microsoft and Google all duplicate and create knock-offs, it is what they do. Google was first to actually implement a solution, and if Microsoft wants to attempt an implementation as well so be it. I just hope they make it compatible with all web browsers, and not just IE. Otherwise, I won't use it. Having duplicate options gives the user a choice, which is always a good thing.
    Chris_Clay
  • @apexwm
    > if Microsoft wants to attempt an implementation as well so be it.

    They implemented it before Google. What Microsoft didn't do was implement it as widely, or roll it out internationally.

    > I just hope they make it compatible with all web browsers, and not just IE.

    When was the last time Microsoft did something that only worked in IE?
    Jack Schofield
  • "When was the last time Microsoft did something that only worked in IE?"

    windowsupdate.com for instance.
    AndyPagin-3879e