Google offers street view of Oklahoma City


Thursday, June 26th 2008, 2:54 pm
By: News 9


By Audrey Esther, News9.com INsite Team

At a coffee shop in Oklahoma City Angela Hokenson looks at her house more than 700 miles away in Minneapolis.

"That's my house right there but not my car," Hokenson said while viewing an online picture of her house.

As easily as Hokenson can view her house online so can anyone else with Internet access. Google.com's newest mapping feature, Street View, makes this possible. Street View gives online users a panoramic view of more than 60 cities and allows them to virtually walk up to landmarks, business and most homes. Google launched an Oklahoma City version this month.

"I was shocked that our house was shown and that it was a relatively recent picture," Hokenson said. 

Google calls Street View an innovative mapping program. Frequent traveler Jason Sims said he thinks the application is beneficial.

"I think it would be very helpful in particular if you're going to an area that you typically don't go to and need familiarity," Sims said.

Others said this up-close view is too close for comfort and feels it is more like an invasion of privacy.

"I have a little problem with the invasion of privacy," Oklahoma City resident Brit McCabe said. "Everybody wants to know everything about everybody else. It's ridiculous."

A Google spokesperson told News9.com by phone the images were captured with panoramic cameras mounted on cars that Google employees drove up and down public streets. Despite some finding the process invasive, it is not illegal.

"Driving down a public street anyone can take pictures of anything," Irven Box, NEWS 9 Legal Analyst, said. "There's nothing illegal if you're in a place that you have a right to be in and take a picture."

There are some restrictions though and Google has made some adjustments since it launched the program nationwide last year. U.S. Military bases like Tinker Air Force Base are not viewable. Also, faces and license plates have been blurred.

Google provides a link on all images for users to request an image be removed or to report inappropriate content.