StreetsideThe true-to-life experience for explorers everywhere.
Blaise Aguera y Arcas, architect of Bing Maps, shares an inside look at the Streetside feature.
Microsoft is committed to safeguarding individual privacy and security.
Discover the Details.
- What is Streetside?
Streetside is Microsoft’s street level imagery service. It enables map users to experience Bing Maps from street level. Streetside will supplement maps, directions and local search. Imagery is collected using a 360 degree camera mounted on a car. We drive public roads and other areas open to the public (e.g., car parks), with our main focus on streets with businesses and points of public interest.
- Where can I see Streetside?
Streetside is available on the Bing Maps Beta website at http://www.bing.com/maps/explore/.
- When will street level imagery include international markets?
Microsoft has already collected imagery in 56 US metro areas as well as in selected areas in Canada. In April 2011, Microsoft will begin collecting street level imagery in Europe, starting in the UK with France, Germany and Spain following soon after.
- What measures will Microsoft take to ensure street level imagery doesn’t violate the privacy of individuals?
As with all Microsoft technology, street level imagery and Bing maps were designed with security and privacy concerns in mind. Our mapping products comply with applicable laws governing the acquisition and publishing of imagery. Specifically, we use automated software and advanced algorithms to detect and blur faces and license plates to protect individual privacy. This automated software and advanced algorithms are based on years of Microsoft Research investments in computer vision techniques. We also accept requests to blur or remove images of faces or persons, homes, cars, acts of violence, nudity and unlawful material. We review every request. Depending on the content of the imagery we may remove it entirely, blur a portion of it or take no action if no identifying features remain visible.
- What information exactly are you and NAVTEQ collecting in the UK?
Pictures taken at street level, initially, these pictures will be focused on high urban density areas as this is where 80% of destinations and points of interest are based. We will start in London and then expand to other towns and cities across the UK.
Our drive partner NAVTEQ will be collecting additional information to help construct next generation mapping products including geospatial/road data, sign camera imagery, LIDAR point cloud data and geospatial location information.
- What steps has Microsoft taken to ensure street level imagery is in accordance with local laws?
We are taking the necessary steps to ensure privacy officials, both governmental and non-governmental in regions we plan to collect imagery, are aware and approve of our intended activities including imagery collection areas and process, dates, use intent, privacy protection measures, etc.
- Will you notify communities that you will be filming in their neighborhoods?
We will provide broad notification of image capture locations and dates through advertisements in local newspapers. We will also keep local authorities informed of our driving schedule.
We have set up a freephone helpline 0800 881 5372 and this online resource for anyone who would like to know more about the service.
- What classes of roads is the imagery collected from?
We primarily drive public roads with our initial focus on streets with businesses and points of public interest. At times, we may drive residential areas as well. As we continue to grow our street level coverage, we’ll share our plans to expand collection areas.
- How and when will images be created?
The images will be created using cameras placed on marked cars that will travel through metropolitan areas.
- What kind of notice will be on the vehicle?
Cars will be marked with Bing logos along with the name of our partner, NAVTEQ. Drivers will also have details of how to contact Microsoft via a freephone telephone service 0800 881 5372 or online.
- How are you partnering with NAVTEQ?
Microsoft is partnering with NAVTEQ, the leading global provider of digital map, traffic and location data, to collect Streetside imagery. NAVTEQ will use their expertise in efficient data collection to staff and operate the collection vehicles and manage data logistics. Microsoft will apply industry-leading image processing and privacy protection techniques to create data products for both Bing Maps and NAVTEQ commercial customers.
- How long will street level images be retained?
We keep original imagery captured in for one year or in accordance with local laws in order to assist with continued development of street level imagery technology and privacy algorithms.
- Does Street level imagery violate the privacy of individuals?
As with all Microsoft technology, street level imagery and Bing maps were designed with security and privacy concerns in mind. We have reviewed privacy rules and regulations to ensure that our street level imagery activities comply with applicable laws governing the acquisition and publishing of imagery. We are also reaching out proactively to the privacy community to inform them about this project and our approach.
- What and how do you blur images?
We use industry-leading automated software and advanced algorithms to detect and blur faces and vehicle registration plates. The automated software and advanced algorithms are based on years of Microsoft Research investments in computer vision techniques.
- How accurate is the blurring?
Our internal tests have shown that our privacy algorithms and detection rate are consistent with the success rate in the industry. As with all automated approaches, there is a chance that some images may come through that should have been blurred. In those instances, we encourage people to identify and report to us any published images that may be of concern to them.
- What takedown requests will you honor?
We accept requests to blur or remove images of faces or persons, homes, cars, acts of violence, nudity and unlawful material.
Requests to remove pictures can be made from the page where the image is shown. Users can click on the blue question mark icon, and select ‘Report A Problem’ from the pop-up menu. From there, they will be able to request the removal of the selected image.
Depending on the content of the pictures we may remove it entirely, blur a portion of it or take no action if no identifying features remain visible.
We will personally review every request received.
- What happens if someone requests an image be removed?
We have trained individuals that review every request. Depending on the content of the imagery we may remove it entirely, blur a portion of it or take no action if no identifying features remain visible.
- How long will it take to respond to a request to remove or blur an image?
Our team reviews every request and takes action promptly.
- Can home and business owners request that images of their home or business be removed?
We accept requests to blur or remove images of faces or persons, homes, cars, acts of violence, nudity and unlawful material. These requests will be determined on a case-by-case basis.