Google Maps and Google Street View have changed the way we explore our world, navigate to our destinations, spy on ex-partners and all kinds of good stuff. The ability to travel anywhere, ‘drive’ down a street and look at how different people live in different countries is something we never get bored of. But how often does Google Street View update? Is the picture you’re seeing on your screen a reality or history?
Google Street View was launched back in 2007 and began with San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, Miami and New York City. As the program expanded, more US cities were added. Then in 2008 Google Street View went international when larger cities in France, Italy, Japan and Australia were added.
Since that time, coverage was widened and deepened and now includes most countries and most towns and cities within those countries. It’s a huge undertaking but one that benefits us all.
Google Street View data gathering
Google Street View update now uses two forms of updates to keep current. It still uses the camera cars that drive up and down our streets capturing everything in their special 360 degree cameras. These travel proscribed routes in locations across the world according to a global schedule.
This page on the Google website shows you exactly when and where the Google Street View Car will be at any given time. Scroll down the page to ‘Where we’re headed’ and you can see the published schedule.
The other source of Google Street View imagery is from users. Google introduced this feature in 2017 to allow contributors to add their own images to the Google Street View database for possible inclusion into the map.
Google Street View updates
As you can imagine, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to take the imagery from the cars and contributors, blur out faces and license plates and prepare them for use on Google Street View. It takes quite a while from the moment the images were captured to seeing them on the map.
There may be a set schedule for taking new images but there is no schedule for updating them to the web. You can tell when Google Street View was updated in the bottom right of the screen. You should see a small box in the corner saying something like ‘Image capture: May 2018’. This was when that particular scene was last updated.
Google says they prioritize areas with no Google Street View presence over updating those with an existing presence. They put more resources into adding to the project and that makes sense. If you checked the Street View car schedule, you will see that the car still retraces its steps so not all cars are sent out to new places. Some at least are updating existing images.
Taking one location, near my parent’s home town for example. The current image date is May 2018. The Google Street View car schedule has it revisiting between March and September 2019. That means even in a small town, Google Street View is updated after a year or eighteen months. This might not be for everywhere and it may not be every single year, but it is an indication of how often Google Street View is potentially updated.
Can you request a Google Street View update?
I have seen a few people ask for Google to revisit their town or their street as it has been renovated, improved, developed, changed or because they just didn’t like the picture the car took. As far as I know, you cannot request a Google Street View update. The car has a schedule and it sticks to that schedule.
However, if there is something seriously wrong with your Google Street View, you can now upload your own imagery for consideration by Google. It will need to be a 360 shot and will need to comply with a bunch of rules but the page linked above tells you all you need to know. As an added bonus, there is even a camera loan scheme where you can borrow a specialist 360 camera from Google to take imagery for adding to Google Street View.
You can view a selection of user-added images over at the Google Maps Street View Gallery. Some of it is awesome!
I will admit to being a little bit addicted to Google Street View. I have dragged that little yellow man all over the world and have explored some awesome places with him. It’s always reassuring to know that the image you’re seeing bears some resemblance to the real thing even if it might be a year out of date!