Google Local adding a county at a time

Ever since Google extended their Local service to the UK, satellite photo coverage has been, quite literally, rather patchy, with not many areas covered by high resolution images. Recently, however, they have been extending the detailed images, and there has been discussion about whether they are now using aerial photos from aircraft rather than satellite photos.

Today I looked at the overview of Great Britain, and immediately noticed that the newest high resolution areas, which appear a different shade of green and so stand out, follow the shape of county boundaries. In northern England is West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester; in the east is Cambridgeshire; and to the south is Berkshire. In Wales, all of the unitary authorities of south Wales are covered with the exception of Monmouthshire; and let’s not forget the tiny County of Bristol across the Severn. It also appears that the West Midlands, Buckinghamshire and Surrey are currently being worked on, maybe from a different set of photos.

Compare the following images and you’ll see what I mean:

Google Local UK 2006-04-19Google counties 2006-04-19

You can also view a map with the names of the counties. In Scotland, the cities of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, as well as Renfrewshire, have received the same treatment.

The high resolution photos are not just the approximate areas of the counties, but follow the boundaries exactly. So what does this mean? Surely if they were satellite photos, presumably from Google’s American supplier, the detailed patches would be square, or at best follow geographical features. The fact that they follow the shape of administrative areas makes me think these images probably come from a UK-based source. And most significantly, they are likely to be taken from an aircraft as the irregularly-shaped edges are quite different to the long, square strips that came from the satellites.

It’ll be interesting to see which counties they cover next. In the meantime, if you want to find somewhere in the areas I mentioned, you will be able to zoom right in.

One response to “Google Local adding a county at a time”

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