Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Street View comes to Scotland

After months of anticipation following the spotting of the camera cars roaming around the country, we’ve seen Google finally release Street View for Scotland – and probably some of the the rest of the country.

In a famous case a few years ago, an American couple decided to sue Google over invasion of privacy – they lost their case, and I suspect they had a closer eye on any settlement they thought they might have extorted from Google to avoid the taint of a court appearance.

In this country, the Daily Mail has proven that it nothing more that cretin’s crib sheet operated by Luddites, and has launched a rabid attack on the application with its front page screaming furiously that the arrival of Street View in the UK could be a privacy-invading nightmare – saying Google’s cars “WILL PHOTOGRAPH EVERY DOOR IN BRITAIN”.

EVERY door???

Having found a brain cell somewhere, the paper continues:

The internet giant’s StreetView website will allow anyone in the world to type in a UK address or postcode and instantly see a 360-degree picture of the street.

It will include close-ups of buildings, cars and people. Critics say the site is a ‘burglar’s charter’ that makes it easy for criminals to check out potential victims.

I don’t think so – and a moment’s thought, which unfortunately for the Daily Mail needs at least TWO brain cells, will reveal the shortcomings of using Street View for any activity that needs current information. But why let facts get in the way of a good alarmist headline?

If the paper wants to do something useful, why doesn’t it get on with a war against surveillance and CCTV cameras. These are live, can be used to follow anyone around, good or bad, and is watched in real-time by civilians, not even police. The footage can then turn up on TV, providing hours of laughter, or less salubrious voyeurism if it’s part of a late night “adult” version of the same type of programme.

I’ve had a look at my own street, and this has already changed from the view presented by Google, and that’s after barely a year. I’m much more worried about the neds (translation: trouble-making youths) that I find in the dark of night, happy to wander around my/our houses, or run through our gardens in the full knowledge that by the time we hear them, they’ll be long gone, our gardens will be wasted, and our cars damaged. That’s the real world, not the demented, sales-oriented land of a newspaper editor’s office.

The rest of us will get on with out lives, and enjoy Street View for the fun application it is, and I’m sure that those who are disabled and house-bound in any way will find it a boon and appreciate it, even if it inevitably shows that the places they may not have been able to visit for years have changed out of all recognition.

Interestingly, they missed out the obscuration of my car’s registration, so I might drop them a note and ask for it to be treated the same as all the rest. I’ll let you know how that goes,  if I get round to it. Until then, you can enjoy hunting the streets for XXXX XXX – you expect me to make it easy? According to the Daily Mail, with information like that, you should be able to find it and me in no time at all now, thanks to Google’s Street View, the “Burglar’s Charter”.

Here’s the list of cities covered at the release:

Fire up the Google map view in the usual way, pan and zoom to one of the listed places, and then drag the little figure streetview at the top of the zoom control onto the street you’re interested in, and that will fire up the Street View option.

  • Aberdeen
  • Dundee
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow

And some others, a bit to the south of the interesting places (only kidding, I love some of these, and miss not working in some of them too):

  • Belfast
  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Cardiff
  • Coventry
  • Derby
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Norwich
  • Oxford
  • Scunthorpe
  • Sheffield
  • Southampton
  • Swansea
  • York

Mar 19, 2009 - Posted by | Civilian, Maps | ,


  1. Any idea why the entire central city areas of Aberdeen, Peterhead, Fraserburgh and other towns have been removed from Street View? Odd that they would leave the residential suburbs there but remove the commercial districts from the service.


    Comment by T. Lassiter Jones | May 24, 2009

  2. I don’t think it is correct to say they were removed. You must have been fast if you saw them, and Google even faster if they included them, then removed them

    I happened to look at the the Grampian towns mentioned on the day Street View went live (old stomping grounds not actually seen for some time), and their town centres were not included then, much to my disappointment, and the active layer clearly showed the camera cars had driven around them

    My own opinion – and it is only that – based on more detailed review of the streets omitted from my own home area (and Peterhead in particular, is that the car simply did not drive through the areas concerned.

    The Google camera cars have no special privileges to drive anywhere, and, as the Thugs of Broughton showed, can be barred by people threatening the driver.

    More likely, from the streets I know personally, they could not be easily covered because of the constraints of one-way system making it awkward to cover an area without retracing streets already covered; the presence of pedestrian precincts; the driver’s unfamiliarity with an area causing zones to be missed; traffic jams and congestion – the drivers have covered considerable areas on the first pass, and it would have been more important to cover area, rather than capture detail, and they would undoubtedly have avoided anything that looked like gridlock.

    I’m sure areas that are not yet covered will be included as time goes on, and there may still be images in the system yet to be processed and uploaded, as the processing and stitching of the images takes considerable computing power and time – as we know from Google Earth, which is still seeing hi-res image uploads of tens of terabytes every so often, yet there are still vast tracts of the country still only available in lo-res.

    Give them time, and we’ll see 🙂


    Comment by Apollo | May 24, 2009

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