Thousands of images of Belfast streets are available in a new mapping application unveiled by Google, allowing millions around the world to take a “virtual stroll” through the city.
Google’s Street View allows users to access 360-degree views of roads in 25 cities in the UK, with Belfast being the only city in Northern Ireland to feature so far.
The technology was first launched in the US in 2007 and is already available in seven countries worldwide.
From yesterday Google users in the UK and the Netherlands can take a ‘virtual stroll’ — a move which takes online mapping to a new level, according to the company.
The images of Belfast include houses, people and cars. Users can wander past some of Belfast’s best known landmarks, such as walking down Royal Avenue or past Queen’s University, and check out their own house.
Developers have said they are keen to respect individual privacy and will “in almost all cases” remove pictures deemed to breach privacy or display inappropriate content.
Ed Parsons, Google’s geospatial technologist, said: “Street View has been hugely popular with our users in Europe and worldwide and we’re thrilled it’s now available in the UK for so many great cities.”
Sophisticated technology automatically obscures the faces of people in Street View photographs and car registration plates have been blurred.
Mr Parsons said the Information Commissioner’s Office was consulted about privacy concerns, as was Scotland Yard. “Privacy is really important to us. We recognise that there have been concerns about that and we think we have addressed those concerns,” he said.