AMHERST - Smile, you may have just been Googled.
The Google Street View car was in Amherst on Tuesday taking photographs of streets for the company's cityblock project that will soon launch in Canada.
The cityblock vehicle is a research project sponsored by Google Inc. for the purpose of imaging public streets and areas.
In March, Google announced its vehicles would be driving around the country to collect images for Street View for Canada, a free feature in Google Maps and Google Earth meant to help people get around and get to know their area and other areas better.
The peculiar looking four-door grey Chevy Cobalt has been driving the streets of the town sporting a mast with an array of cameras on the top. The raw images form these cameras will be stitched together for the final product.
"We're doing public roads only and capturing still images only. It isn't video and it isn't real time," Tamara Micner of Google public relations said. "If there are people or cars in the images we blur faces and license plates because the idea is to capture the places."
Micner said Google takes privacy issues very seriously and people can have photos of themselves, their families, homes or business taken down from the site by quickly by reporting a problem in the street view program itself.
"It's usually within 24 hours after a problem has been reported that it's removed," she said. "We only get requests for a very small percentage of the images we have."
There is presently Google Street View imagery available for 12 countries at present with Canada's images to be put up on the Internet sometime later this year.
"It has been quite popular. Both individuals and businesses have found it quite useful for a number of purposes whether it's travel, or real estate or public transit," Micner said. "In Canada alone, people have looked at more than 100 million street view panoramas of other countries."
More information can be found at http://maps.google.ca/streetview.