Google's Street View
car was spotted Thursday snapping pictures of Staten Island homes devastated by Hurricane Sandy
for updated imagery on Google Maps.
The car's presence, first reported by the New York Post, triggered an outcry among some residents who don't want their wrecked homes on the Internet for all to see. Residents' complaints about the maps ranged from privacy issues to concerns about property value.
However, at least one Staten Island local told the Post that Google's maps might generate more awareness and support. And Google will be making repeat visits as recovery continues — New York City Mayor's Office Deputy Press Secretary Julie Wood said in a statement that Google is ". . .committed to documenting these same neighborhoods again soon to show the recovery we are confident will be made."
A Google spokesperson said that the company hopes the updated maps will help with the ongoing recovery efforts.
"As part of our ongoing work to provide useful information in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Street View team is currently re-driving affected areas of New York," said the spokesperson. "We hope this accurate, updated imagery will help people around the world better understand the extent of the damage and the importance of coming together as a community to aid in the recovery efforts."
Up-to-the-second maps are often considered a blessing by recovery organizations and local governments in the aftermath of geography-changing catastrophes. Google used its mapping capabilities in a similar fashion following Hurricane Katrina, flooding in Pakistan, an earthquake in Turkey andother natural disasters.
Google, however, has been criticized for being slow to update maps and Street View imagery following successful recovery efforts, particularly in post-Katrina New Orleans.
The debate over Google's post-Sandy mapping comes after a similar argument which also pitched open data against homeowner privacy after a newspaper published maps of gun permit applicants.
Is Google right to map post-Sandy damage to Staten Island? Should Google make the maps public? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo via Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images