Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Search engines offer detailed images of cities

Internet portals' newly evolving local search and mapping services, where the photographic images are typically rendered as search results, make it easier than ever to scout out everything from vacation destinations to restaurants.

The images, most featuring US cities, are so detailed you can sometimes tell whether a hedge was recently trimmed or get a good look at cars parked on the street. Such views are available online for anyone to see from some of the biggest names on the Internet, including, Microsoft Corp
and Google Inc.

Never before have searchable databases of detailed pictures covering wide swaths of urban areas been readily available like this to the public. And that has privacy advocates worried about the risks of such picture perfect exposure to vulnerable citizens such as women in domestic violence shelters.

"I think there are going to be privacy issues, no doubt about it somebody's going to feel uncomfortable with it," said Charlene Li of Forrester Research. "So the question becomes, what are the tradeoffs? Is the value worth it?"

Yes, according to research by Forrester. Li said she's already seeing consumer interest, and she expects companies to continue to develop such tools because they see the potential for online advertising from local businesses who may not want to buy national online ads.


Post a Comment

<< Home