Thu, Mar 13, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Government touts own ‘street view’ app

Staff writer, with CNA

Not to be outshone by Google Inc and its mapping service that documents panoramic road views, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is touting a new system it has developed for local residents to generate their own pictures of the nation’s streets.

People can use an event data recorder, commonly installed in vehicles, to record any given route and upload the video to the new application system, ministry officials said yesterday.

The user-friendly interface allows users to generate their personal street views within a short period of time, which can then be rendered and shared with others to help with road information and directions, ministry researcher Huang Chun-hau said.

The street view files are displayed on Google Maps, a service familiar to Taiwanese Internet users, for a quick search, Huang said.

“It is an application full of potential as it offers both information and entertainment services,” Huang said.

Users only need an event data recorder, which weighs about 300g and costs a few thousand New Taiwan dollars, to capture all kinds of landscapes, from street views to mountain trails, Huang said.

Launched last year, the application is used by highway maintenance offices to keep track of road conditions, Huang said, adding that it was later seen as a potentially useful tool for the public.

Unlike Google Street View, which is not updated frequently, the ministry’s “Street View Maker” application provides closer to real-time and more personal travel information, he said.

Users simply have to move an icon to a specific spot on a map to check for photos of the areas they are interested in.

Google introduced Trekker — a wearable backpack outfitted with a camera system on top — to Taiwan last year to improve its Street View services by shooting images of scenic spots that the company’s devices previously had a hard time reaching by car or bicycle.

While the Trekker project has been going smoothly in Taiwan and more hiking trails have been added to the project, it still takes at least three to four months to shoot images of a single location and to process the images, the US-based search engine said.

The ministry is mulling making its service cloud-based in the future, as is the case with Google, which means the street views could be submitted by different users and shared online without extra rendering.

However, that approach will require constant online maintenance and privacy concerns could be an issue, Huang said.

Until then, the Street View Maker is likely to remain a closed system, he said.

The application can be downloaded at

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