It’s out there, roaming, collecting data, taking in every minute detail and uploading it to massive servers.
But it’s not the agent of a dystopian nightmare or even the NSA. It is actually a cheerfully colorful hatchback mounted with a multidirectional camera aiming to re-create the streets of the Killeen area in digital format.
Google’s Street View car has been spotted all over Killeen in the past week, taking photos of the streets and buildings to update the online search engine giant’s detailed maps tool.
Google’s press team confirmed the car has been in the area. However, they gave few details about how long the car will continue to scour Killeen’s streets or where it might be on any given day.
“Updating our imagery is something we do from time to time as part of our effort to provide users with the most comprehensive, accurate and useful maps possible,” a company representative stated in an email.
It appears the last time the company made a detailed record of Killeen was in summer 2011, according to the website’s dated photos. Copperas Cove and Harker Heights haven’t seen the Street View Car since spring 2008.
According to Google Street View, Texas A&M University-Central Texas is still a pile of dirt.
And Fort Hood? It looks like the U.S. Army never permitted the site to take detailed photos of its largest military base and upload them to a public website viewable in any corner of the world with Internet access.
And yet, the car has at least taken a recent record of the area’s main thoroughfare, U.S. Highway 190, where along Central Texas Expressway photos were updated in January 2013.
This time around, the company also is refraining from gathering and storing data from Wi-Fi networks the cars encountered and collected from 2008 to 2010, the company representative said.
That practice landed Google in court, causing the company to issue a $7 million payout to 38 states. Litigation continues with a federal judge rejecting their request to dismiss a lawsuit stating the company’s practice of “packet-sniffing” via its Street View cars violated federal wiretap laws.
To stake out the Google Street View car for perhaps an impromptu family photo in the front yard, Google said the best time is at high noon.
“We pay close attention to the sun when planning our driving, and need the sun to be high enough that shadows don’t obscure buildings,” the unnamed company representative stated. “We also consider weather and temperature, since we don’t want snow, fog or rain to cause driving delays or blurred images.”
While the company is not asking permission to photograph homes and businesses, it has created a “easy-to-use” tool for obscuring details of certain addresses. Just head to the street view of the address, and click “Report a problem.” Submit a request, and Google’s representative said they will blur the image.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.