BANGOR, Maine — For several years, Google Maps has been a resourceful tool for motorists seeking the best directions to a destination.
Thanks to a feature known as Street View, people have a more flexible way to look up businesses and residences, and Google’s Street Car has been traveling Bangor and Portland and updating those photographs over the past week.
The Street View tool allows users to visually explore and navigate a neighborhood through panoramic street-level photographs, as opposed to typical Google Maps shots, in which only a map of local streets is featured, according to Google Communications and Public Affairs spokeswoman Deanna Yick.
Tanya Pereira, an economic development specialist for the city of Bangor, said the Street View tool will do wonders for residents and prospective visitors.
“We’re excited that Google is doing such an extensive street view look at the city,” she said. “It gives us more flexibility and better perspective than just an aerial photograph.”
To view the images of the Street Car, one can zoom into the lowest level on Google Maps, or draw the orange “Pegman” icon on the left-hand side of the map onto a street outlined in blue. One can then navigate up and down the streets, or look around in 360-degree panoramas.
The Street View car has a special camera on top of it that includes face-blurring technology, which makes sure that people on the streets or driving can’t be identified, while license plates are also blurred.
Pereira also said the technology will help people locate businesses and eateries in downtown Bangor, while also aiding officials in the economic development office.
“It sort of adds to the information that we have when we’re talking with people,” she said. “From our perspective, it’s a helpful tool.”
Street View first became available on the Web in 2007, and can now be accessed in a number of cities in 27 countries. Google’s Street View contains images of areas in Maine such as Portland, Lewiston-Auburn, Bangor, Camden and Presque Isle.
The images are taken only on public property. Those who want to contact Google, such as asking for images of their houses or cars to be further obscured, may click on the “Report a Problem” link on the bottom left-hand side of the Street View image and submit a request to have the image blurred.
To check out the images of Maine, log on to maps.google.com, and type an address into the search window at the top of the page.