Google introduces historical Street View

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It has been a while since I’ve posted, and that is mostly due to my new job! I’m doing research for a transportation modeling team, and my job mostly consists of keeping our network models up to date using GIS and other programs.

Anyway, enough about me. Today Google released an improvement for their maps functionality that makes one aspect of my job so much easier. I’ve been working on a 2010 network model (note that it is now 2014), which means I have to pull roadway information (number of lanes, length, speed limit, etc) from 2010 in order to have an accurate model. Since roadways often change, especially in the downtown area, this is not always an easy task. Until now, I’ve been using Google Earth, which has the ability to view historical satellite imagery. So, until today, I’ve been verifying lane counts from a bird’s-eye perspective. This is not always easy when there’s shadows from tall buildings or trees in the way.

But luckily, now I can use Street View from roughly any time since 2007. That means I can go back to 2010 and view what the roads actually looked like from a human’s-eye perspective (or car’s-eye perspective). This makes things way easier! And better yet, it’s built into Google Maps so I can do it right from my browser.

According to the Google Earth blog,

Activating it is quite simple. While viewing imagery in Street View, simply click the clock in the upper-left part of the screen (as shown in the image above) to choose a different time. Note that this feature is rolling out in stages, and you may not yet have access to it.

Easy peasy. I’m going to be using this a lot from now on. Thanks Google!

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Heart-shaped geography

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I would celebrate by showcasing some of the love found naturally on our lovely planet. There are a handful of heart-shaped lakes and islands out there, many of which have become popular tourist destinations for newlyweds or other love-minded individuals. The image above is Galešnjak, an uninhabited and privately-owned island off the coast of Croatia. While there are currently only plants and trees on the island, there is evidence of past human habitation of the island in the form of burial mounds and pieces of ancient buildings. Its coordinates are 43°58’42” N, 15°23’01” E.

Next is Hridaya Saras in India. This heart-shaped lake is a popular destination for hikers on Chembra Peak. The wikipedia article on Chembra Peak states that the lake is believed to have never dried up, which is just adorable. Coordinates for the lake are 11°32’50” N, 76°04’58” E.

Tavarua Island in Fiji is a popular destination mainly because waves in the area are great for surfing. The island even hosts professional surfing competitions. The area is also a popular resort, with restaurants, spas, and tennis courts. The island itself is only 29 acres, and its coordinates are 17°51’28” S, 177°12’08” E.

Last on the list is Mo’orea Island, which just barely made it due to it not being quite as perfectly heart-shaped as the others. Mo’orea is an island just off the coast of French Polynesia in the middle of the southern Pacific Ocean, but it has an airport and a single road around its perimeter. The island has about 16,000 inhabitants, and its geography is very mountainous and beautiful. Wikipedia states that it serves as a popular honeymoon destination and that its image is seen in many American wedding magazines. Mo’orea’s coordinates are 17°32’03” S, 149°49’58” W.

Happy vday!

All images from Google Earth and all info from Wikipedia.