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Google keeps on mapping

Undeterred by mounting problems in Europe over possible privacy violations, Google keeps on expanding the reach of its Street View program here in the U.S.

If you aren’t familiar with the program, Street View is Google’s massively ambitious project to link millions of photographs to its Google Maps platform, so users can log in and get a street level view of any road, public space or special attraction, anywhere in the world.

Last November, Google announced that it had completed its street survey of Hawaii, making it the 50th and final U.S. state to be included in Street View. But it didn’t stop there. Realizing that many places of interest were off-limits to its original Street View van, Google unveiled the Street View trike, a specially-equipped bicycle that can now visit thousands of previously inaccessible areas.

To celebrate the introduction of the trike, Google gave Street View fans an opportunity to vote for the “off-road” special attractions they most wanted to see. The initial 25,000 suggestions were whittled down to 24 finalists and, after nearly a quarter of a million votes were cast, Google this week announced the winners.

Of the various categories to make the final list, it turns out that university campuses were by far the most popular, attracting almost 70,000 votes. Assuming the majority of these came from prospective students and their parents, it highlights one of the more practical uses of the Street View technology.

Other votes were cast for familiar beauty spots, with Boulder Creek Path in Colorado easily winning the Parks & Trails category. Faneuil Hall in Boston (Pedestrian Malls), the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (National Landmarks) and the Detroit Zoo (Theme Parks & Zoos) all featured strongly and won their various categories.

Google is now working with the winning organizations to arrange visits for the trike, so watch out for the strange-looking contraption if you are planning your own trip to one of these spots anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Google keeps on snapping and mapping. If you would like to see how your street looks on Street View, follow the instructions from our earlier article. You might be in for a big surprise!   

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