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?
Street level imagery (a/k/a Streetside) enables users to experience Bing Maps from street level. Streetside supplements maps, directions and local search. Imagery is collected using a 360 degree camera mounted on an automobile. We drive public roads and other open areas, with our main focus on streets with business and points of public interest.
- Where can I see Streetside?
Streetside is available on the Bing Maps website at http://www.bing.com/maps/. Click the Streetside icon from any map view and you can see where Microsoft has Streetside imagery.
- Where have you collected Streetside images?
At this time, Streetside is available extensively in the United States, United Kingdom and France. There is select coverage in Canada (Vancouver/Whistler area) and Microsoft will be publishing data for Spain in the coming months.
- 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. 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 were 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.
- What about privacy laws?
Microsoft takes privacy concerns very seriously, and this is why we are working with government agencies, regulators and non-governmental privacy groups.
- Will you notify communities that you will be filming in their neighborhoods?
Based on regulations in each region where we collect imagery we will take the necessary steps to ensure filming locations and dates are communicated publicly.
- What classes of roads is the imagery collected from?
We drive public roads and collect images in and around city centers or other points of public interest. We may drive residential areas as well if they are located close to these areas.
- How will images be created?
The images will be created using cameras placed on cars that will travel through metropolitan areas.
- What kind of notice will be on the vehicle?
We will mark vehicles in accordance with local regulations in the regions where we collect imagery.
- How long will street level images be retained?
We keep original, un-blurred imagery for a reasonable length of time to assist with continued development of street level imagery technology and privacy algorithms.
- What and how do you blur images?
We use industry-leading automated software and advanced algorithms to detect and blur faces and license plates. The automated software and advance 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 allow people to identify and report to us any published images that may be of concern to them.
- What take-down 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. Users can file a request through while viewing Streetside imagery via a simple web form. 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.
Microsoft has an online concern tool available to users to request to have imagery issues evaluated. The automated process to report an image concern is as follows:
- From the Bing Maps website (www.bing.com/maps/):
- Navigate to the Streetside view in question.
- Click the Help “Question Mark” icon in the lower right corner.
- Select “Report an Image Concern” from the menu and follow the online instructions.
- From the Bing Maps website (www.bing.com/maps/):
- How long will it take to respond to a request to remove or blur an image?
Depending on the nature of the reported image, the reaction time may vary. If Microsoft elects to remove an image, removal occurs within 30-60 days of receiving the report.
- 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.
- The car looks odd. Is there any danger to my health, or is there something else I should be concerned about?
There is no reason to be concerned. The car design allows for accurate data collection. The technology poses no health dangers.
- What technology will you use to collect street level pictures?
The sensor system mounted on the car provide the ability to capture a 360 degree picture and support the collection of street level imagery and 3D information. It includes 3 main components:
- Positioning sensors (an integrated GPS/IMU unit) which ensure all data collected is accurately georeferenced;
- Panoramic cameras which provide the ability to capture street level imagery in a 360° field of view;
- Rotating laser scanners which collects over a million data points every second to help create things like 3D representations of the environment.
- How often will Streetside pictures be updated?
We expect to update pictures on the Streetside service on an ongoing basis. Major towns and cities will likely be updated on a 2-3 year cycle.
- Is Microsoft selling the information it collects to third parties?
We are collecting this information to improve our Bing Maps service and provision of location based services. We do not intend to sell information collected to third parties.