[OSM-dev] Google Street View

Sjors Provoost sjors at sprovoost.nl
Tue Aug 5 10:13:49 BST 2008


Hi everyone (legal and dev),

Now that the Google Street view imagery is growing pretty rapidly, I
wonder if we could ask Google for permission to use the imagery to
improve the OpenStreetMap data. I know they do not allow us to use
their areal images, but part of the reason for that is that Google
doesn't really own those. As far as I know, Google does own all the
StreetView pictures.

Things they could be useful for (for the dev people to talk about):
* fetch street names from the signs
* find mail boxes
* estimate road quality
* get the exact width of the road (since we 'know' the camera settings)
* get the exact coordinates of features: if we know where the camera
is, what direction it is looking at and typical size of a feature, we
know exactly where it is. Gets even better with triangulation.

In fact, you can pretty much semi automatically construct a very
accurate map with these images if you only have the coordinates,
orientation and camera settings.

Now there could be different levels of access and different ways to
approach it if unlimited usage is out of the question (for the legal
people to talk about).

* we could use images with no map overlay and only the coordinate of the camera.
* we could fetch (semi) random images. We would use the existing
openstreetmap data to figure out where the picture was taken.
* other restrictions?

 That would guarantee that we are not using their map data.


Now I am guessing that I am not the only one who thinks you can
reconstruct a very detailed map from these images, so Google might
already be doing this. If so, they may not like it if we do it first
or better. On the other hand, they might like a bit of competition to
keep 'm sharp and speed things up. So it never hurts to ask.

Sjors




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