If you’re curious to see what your childhood home or elementary school looks like now, the answer is just a mouse click away.
Yesterday, Google launched its Street View service in Canada, giving users high-resolution, 360-degree street-level images of 11 Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler.
The service has been available in the United States since 2007.
Chris Breikss, Google analyst and president and co-founder of 6S Marketing, a Vancouver-based Internet marketing company, said the service could have a “significant impact on businesses.”
“Businesses are now able to advertise in a new way and tie their advertising to location-based maps,” he said.
“Real-estate agents will be able to show off listings more effectively. It will also have a big impact on street-level businesses … and hotels.”
Breikss said potential clients can research nearby restaurants, shops, parking opportunities, transit stops and parks, and get a sense of how walkable the neighbourhood is.
The images were captured earlier this year using cars outfitted with special cameras that drove the streets taking panoramic photos.
Privacy concerns arose when the cars started making appearances around town, but Breikss said that Vancouverites needn’t worry.
“It’s not like they have live cameras throughout the city,” he said, adding that all the photos are archived.
Faces and licence plates have been blurred, and it’s nearly impossible to see inside windows.