Web users can see Bainbridge ‘up close’

Published 8:04 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some may find it cool—others, a little scary—that detailed panoramic images captured along streets and roads throughout Decatur County and most of the southeastern United States are now on the Internet.

On Dec. 9, Internet company Google announced that it had expanded its Street View service, which offers block-by-block, 360-degree views of urban streets and now, rural roads.

The coverage area includes almost all of Georgia and surrounding states, including Bainbridge and the surrounding area. Internet users can check out Street View through the Google Maps Web site at maps.google.com.

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Enter in an address on Google Maps and look for the link labeled “Street View.” The linking of photos to specific addresses isn’t always precise, so people may have to change the view to look for a specific landmark. Using clickable buttons Google places on top of the images, people can look up or down, look in a different direction, zoom in closer or virtually drive down the street.

Google attempts to protect privacy by having its computers automatically blur out people’s faces, car tags and smaller signs. Also, because Street View uses approximate location to determine the view, people who type in a specific address won’t automatically be able to find the building located at that address, unless they are familiar with what it looks like.

If someone finds an interesting Street View image—for example, the intersection of Broad and Broughton streets in Bainbridge, where you can see City Hall, Willis Park and the top of the Decatur County Courthouse—it’s easy to print out the image, e-mail it to someone else or even embed it on another Web site. Google also lets users upload their own pictures of places for others to see.

Street View supplements other features of Google Maps, including driving directions, overhead images taken by satellite and topographic images. Street View is also a feature in the latest version of Google Earth (earth.google.com, freely downloadable software for Macs and PCs, which lets you virtually fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite images, maps and more.

Another Web site, Yahoo!’s flickr.com/map/ lets you explore user-uploaded pictures on a map. Searching the map for Bainbridge currently brings up 56 “geotagged” images taken in and around the city.