Want to take a virtual walk around the Red Fort in Delhi as if you were actually walking through its palaces, pavilions and mosques? You can do just that thanks to Google Street View.
Such a tour is possible because Street View is a virtual representation of your surroundings in Google Maps, consisting of millions of panoramic images.
Google Street View offers the viewer interactive panoramas from different positions along streets around the world. You basically get a 360-degree view of the streets, tourist spots and landmarks. Launched in 2007 in many cities in the United States, it has since spread across the globe, including rural areas. If Street View images are available for a particular street, they are displayed as a blue line in Google Maps. Interactive panoramas consist of VR photos that have been stitched together. While most of the photos are taken by car, everything from camels, boats and snowmobiles to good old leg power have been used.
So how did Google manage to finally bring this feature back to India? Street View is coming to India following changes in the country’s geospatial guidelines. In February 2022, the Ministry of Science and Technology issued guidelines for geospatial data.
The policy limits foreign companies to an accuracy of 1 meter. It also stipulates that such companies will be required to use the application programming interfaces of authorized domestic licensees. As a result, data collection and ownership will remain with local entities. However, under the new guidelines, Google can collect and use geospatial imagery in India through partnerships with local companies. The policy even defines excluded areas, such as government and military locations, to address security concerns.
So this time Google launched Street View in India in collaboration with Tech Mahindra and Genesys International, a mapping and geospatial company. This is the first time that the service will be run entirely by local partners.
Street View will be available in India with footage licensed from local partners. To begin with, the service will cover more than 150,000 kilometers in ten cities. The plan is to expand the service to more than 50 cities by the end of 2022.
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