What is Google Street View?

Do you want to take a virtual tour of Delhi’s Red Fort, almost like walking among its palaces, pavilions and mosques? That’s exactly what you can do with Google Street View.

Such a visit is made possible because Street View is a virtual representation of your surroundings on Google Maps, made up of millions of panoramic images.

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Google Street View offers the viewer interactive panoramas from different positions along streets in many parts of the world. Basically, you get a 360 degree view of streets, sights, and monuments. Launched in 2007 in a number of cities across the United States, it has since expanded around the world, including rural areas. If Street View imagery is available for a certain street, it is displayed as a blue line on Google Maps. Interactive panoramas consist of VR photographs that have been stitched together. Although most of the photography is done in cars, everything from camels, boats and snowmobiles to good old walking power have also been used.

So how did Google finally manage to bring this feature back to India? Street View is coming to India after changes in the country’s geospatial guidelines. In February 2022, the Ministry of Science and Technology had published guidelines for geospatial data.

The policy limits foreign companies to an accuracy of 1 meter. It also requires these companies to use application programming interfaces from authorized national license holders. Therefore, data collection and ownership will remain with local entities. However, under the new guidelines, Google is allowed to collect and use geospatial imagery in India through partnerships with local companies. The policy even identifies excluded areas as government and military sites, solving 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 entirely managed by local partners.

Street View will be available in India with licensed images from local partners. To start, the service will cover more than 150,000 kilometers in ten cities. Additionally, the plan is to expand the service to more than 50 cities by the end of 2022.

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