Monday, April 23, 2012

Google Takes to the Streets of Jerusalem

“To help you explore Israel’s history and present, we’ve launched imagery of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Haifa on Street View,” Google announced on its official blog yesterday. “You can explore the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City and each of its four quarters, walk along the Via Dolorosa and see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, visit the Western Wall and the Mount of Olives,” Google said.

In the coming months, Google will add imagery of the Dead Sea, Nazareth, Eilat and other Israeli towns. In the meantime, virtual visitors can already take 360 degree tours of some of Israel’s most popular attractions.

While not providing specifics, Google officials said at the official launch yesterday that they had met with security officials and had worked to ensure that Google Street View doesn’t constitute a security threat to Israel.

Steps taken by Google include the blurring of faces and license plates in photos, however, these steps would be to protect people’s privacy. Google said it was providing imagery only of public places. As an example, the Jerusalem Post reported that “when traveling down Kaplan Street from Dizengoff, the user hits a force field of sorts at the corner of Dubnov Street, and is not allowed to go any closer to the Kirya military headquarters further down the street.”

However, one former intelligence official interviewed by the Associated Press stated that terrorists “will use it daily. Every day Street View is online, it's causing damage,” said retired Lt. Col. Mordechai Kedar, quoted in the report.

The Jerusalem Post added that “a user can easily get a panoramic view of four different entrances to the Central Bus Station in southern Tel Aviv to gauge what level of security is present at each entrance, as well as which locations appear to have the highest level of foot traffic.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat stressed the positive side of the launch. “Google Street View is an important tool to increase the number of tourists to Jerusalem and to open up the doors of Jerusalem to the entire world,” he said. “The service will allow everyone who wants to come to Jerusalem to better plan their visits and to taste the city before they even arrive.”

1 comment:

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