Sunday, May 6, 2012

Is Google Street View archived?

Just took "before" screenshots to compare to @MLNow's live video [Correction: recent, but not live] of this morning's four-alarm fire at 200 Valencia St. in San Francisco's inner (northward) Mission District. If you look at the video of the firefighters, note the sidewalk tree that's also in the second of the two pictures below, which are screenshots from Google Street View as it appeared this morning.

This being a case study of something J&I are wondering: is somebody archiving the way places look on Google Street View now?

This fire site, for example, is part of a street that's in economic ascent, that will certainly soon look very different. Is somebody doing a systematic job of storing photos like this? With appropriate deference to privacy concerns, these really ought to be available later. These pictures could be important to lots of people, from insurance adjusters, to residents and owners of changed properties, to architectural historians, to zoning and public works planners, to family-history nostalgics.

Some other folks were wondering the same thing last year in this discussion on Google Product Forums. One reader there wrote: "I actually need it for work. I have a clent who's [sic] gas station is now blocked by a highway sound wall and a City Planner who doesn't believe that you could see it before."

Last December Google did announce it was archiving images of the tsunami-affected areas in Japan under the evocative title, "Memories For the Future". A good significant choice for a pilot project.

But what about doing the same thing comprehensively? This could really matter. Anyone know?

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