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Google offers 360 degree street views of Dubai
December 10, 2014, 11:17 am

Motorists navigating through Dubai streets got a fresh view of the surroundings on Tuesday when the emirate became the first city in the Arab region to have Google’s Street View mapping service with 360 degree views.

Tourists and others from anywhere in the world can now watch the main streets and iconic landmarks in Dubai through the Street View option on which is as good as being there.

“This is a very exciting and useful map as the images of the surroundings will assist you better in finding your destination,” Rajesh Ravindran, an IT manager working at Dubai Gold and Diamond Parks.

“You can see all buildings and other landmarks on your way and that will help you understand if you are on the correct road and direction better than with a normal map,” said Ravindran, who was among the motorists to first try out the Street View navigation on Dubai roads.

The panoramic views of “almost all public areas and main streets of Dubai and the sub-streets where you can drive through” have been captured by the Google’s 360 degree Street View camera, which was mounted on a car that went around the length and breadth of the city in the past year.

In these areas, users can access street level images by zooming into the lowest level on Google Maps, or by dragging the orange “Pegman” icon on the left-hand side of the map onto a blue highlighted street. While using the Google Maps on Android smart phones, users can select the desired location, swipe the card up to see more details and tap on street view.

Najeeb Jarrar, Google’s Product Marketing Manager for Mena, told Khaleej Times that his company would be updating the Dubai street views much more frequently than it does in many other cities considering the rapid developments happening here.

While the luminous night view of Dubai streets will not be shown on the maps, he said, Google has adopted the same guidelines of privacy that it followed in other cities like blurring the faces of people and the number plates of vehicles.

The Dubai Municipality which gave permission to Google to map the 360 degree views of the city, has ensured that the images conformed to these guidelines, said the Director of the GIS Department Abdul Hakim Malik.

“Our team has gone through these images and will be constantly monitoring them. If there is any misuse or wrong information noticed, we will take it up with Google,” he said.

Brushing aside security fears, the official said the images show exactly what one could see while he or she is on the streets of Dubai. “They cannot show anything the public cannot see,” he said.

Among the benefits, Malik said government inspectors could avoid unnecessary trips for site visit, while Jarrar said the images would even help firefighters to locate the nearest hydrant and place to park their trucks. “What is beautiful about the Dubai Street View is that almost all roads are surrounded by stunning images of flashy buildings and developments unlike in some other cities,” said Ravindran.

Google is currently mapping Abu Dhabi and will launch its street view map soon, said Jarrar.

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