Google Earth Address Street View – Google Street View has become an incredibly useful way to learn more about the world without going inside. People use it to plan trips, explore vacation destinations, and keep track of friends and foes.
But scientists have found more harmful uses. In the year In 2017, a team of researchers used the images to study the distribution of car types in America, then used that data to determine the demographic makeup of the country. The car you drive is a reliable predictor of your income level, education, occupation, and even how you vote in elections.
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Now another group has gone even further. Łukasz Kidziński of Stanford University in California and Kingka Kita-Wojciechowska of the University of Warsaw in Poland used street-view images of homes to determine the likelihood of a car accident. This is important information that the insurance company can use to determine premiums.
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The discovery raises important questions about how personal data can leak from harmless data sets and how organizations can use it for business purposes.
The researchers’ method is simple. Between 2013 and 2015, people who took out car insurance in Poland started 20,000 records in the database. These are randomly selected from the database of an unknown insurance company.
Each file contains the address of the policy and the number of claims they made between 2013-2015. The insurer shared its own forecast of future claims calculated from a new risk model that takes into account the insured’s zip code and the driver’s age, gender, claims history, etc.
The question Kidziński and Kita-Wojciechowska investigated was whether they could make a more accurate prediction using a Google Street View image of an insured home.
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To find out, the researchers entered each policyholder’s address into Google Street View and uploaded a photo of their residence. They have categorized this housing by type (detached, semi-detached, house, etc.), age and condition. Finally, the researchers analyzed this data set to see how the insured was related to the likelihood of making a claim.
The results are amazing. The insured’s home is a good indicator of the likelihood of a claim. “We found that characteristics seen in a photo of a house can predict the risk of a car crash independently of classical variables such as age or zip code,” explain Kiedzinski and Kita-Wojciechoska.
When these factors are added to the insurer’s lead risk model, they improve its predictive value by 2%. To put this in context, the insurer’s model is only 8% better than the null model and is based on a much larger data set that includes variables such as age, gender and accident history.
Google’s Street View technology has the potential to significantly improve predictions. And the current work is just a proof of principle. The researchers said that the accuracy can be improved by using larger databases and better data analysis.
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The researchers’ approach raises several important questions about how personal information should be used. Policyholders in Poland may be surprised to learn that their address has been entered into Google Street View to obtain and analyze photos of their residences.
The interesting question is whether they have given their informed consent for this activity and whether the insurance company can use the data in this way, given strict European data protection laws. “Customers’ consent for a company to store their address does not necessarily mean permission to store information about their home,” said Kiedzinski and Kita-Wojciechewska.
And the approach can open a Pandora’s box of data analysis. If insurance companies can make a profit, why can’t other companies? “The insurance industry could be quickly followed by banks, because there is a proven link between insurance risk models and credit rating,” Kiedzinski and Kita-Wojciechewska say.
The ability to collect, analyze and use data has increased dramatically in recent years. This capability has outpaced most people’s understanding of what can happen with their data, and indeed outpaced the speed at which the laws governing it can be enacted.
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Of course, Google isn’t the only company that collects street photos. “However, such a practice poses privacy risks for data stored in publicly available Google Street View, Microsoft’s Bing Streetside Maps, Mapillary, or similar private databases such as Cyclomedia,” say Kiedzinski and Kita-Wojciechowski.
This kind of work raises the question of whether these companies should be able to collect and store these images. In Germany, where privacy is a central issue in public debate, Google is already banned from collecting Street View images. This may not be the last place to receive such a ban.
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“The move makes it clear that governments will be held accountable for discrimination,” said attorney Sherry Chen. Did you know that you can have a first-person view of different places in the world on Google Maps? With Street View, you can explore landmarks, see natural wonders, and virtually pop into museums, stadiums, restaurants, or small businesses. You can view past street level photos to see how your neighborhood has changed over time. Here’s how to view Street View on Google Maps.
Drag the yellow pegman in the lower right corner of the desktop to the location on the map. In the mobile app, tap a location pin and tap the photo with Street View icon. Or click Layers -> Path View.
You’ll find your friend Pegman at the bottom right of the screen to see Street View. Touch and hold to pick it up, then drag and drop it where you want to see it. Google or other Google Maps users can drop Pegman on the map with a blue line or blue dot, as they are places where users have taken street-level photos.
Place the cursor in the direction you want to navigate in Street View. You’ll notice that your cursor changes to an arrow with the ground pointing in the direction you’re going.
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You can look around by clicking and dragging the mouse. You can also use the arrows to the left and right of the compass icon. Use your mouse or touchpad to zoom in or out for a better view. You can also use the plus and minus buttons below the compass. If you turn around, you can still orient yourself north by clicking on the compass in the lower right corner.
To quickly jump between streets, hover over the back to map window at the bottom left and click on the blue highlighted lines.
You can travel back in time to view old street photos from the Street View archive on Google Maps. Don’t expect to see anything pre-industrial, as most areas only have it when Google first introduced Street View in 2007.
To change the timeline, drag Pegman onto the map and click the time represented by the clock icon in the upper left corner after release. Then use the slider to go forward or backward in time.
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There are two ways to view Street View in the Google Maps app. You can search for a location, drop a pin, or tap a location marker to see the location description. Then scroll down and select an image titled Street View or a thumbnail with the Street View 360 icon.
You can tap any blue line to access Street View. The blue lines on the map indicate the extent of street view.
Swipe the screen or touch the compass to see it in street view. Then move the image by touching the arrows or double-clicking in the direction you want. Or tap any blue line on the mini map to send a phone there.
If you tap on a designated POI on the miniature map, the map will automatically refresh with new images for a better view of that area.
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Tap the arrows at the bottom right of the Street View image to switch to the full-screen Street View image, which shows a small map.
You can also see a wider view and switch to landscape mode by turning the device sideways. Pinch open on the screen to zoom in and zoom in on the screen to zoom out.
Street View and other real-world maps tend to be updated every few years. You can see when a Street View image was last updated with the image details at the bottom right of the screen.
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