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Mapping Comes Down to Earth

From PC Magazine: “We love the breathtaking top-down satellite imagery found in Google Earth. But there’s more than one way to chart the world. Amazon’s search site,, is enhancing its business-directory listing by bringing city views down to street level, one block at a time.

A9 has the complete Yellow Pages database for the U.S., which is updated each month. When you search for a listing, up pops not only the address of the business but also a map of its location. And if the business is on one of the blocks a certain silver SUV has visited, you’ll also see a photo of the business, and you can virtually stroll down the street to get a sense of the neighborhood. We took a ride with Barnaby Dorfman, vice president of product development at A9 and the mastermind of this effort, to see how it’s done.

Mounted on top of the SUV is an industrial-version Sony camera, aimed sideways. As A9 cruises down city streets, the camera shoots individual JPG images. Simultaneously, a custom-built GPS setup records the location of each photograph to ensure accuracy. It takes about three or 4 weeks to map a city, Dorfman told us, depending on its size and complexity. So far, 35 cities (including major metropolitan areas such as New York, and Los Angeles, as well as Fargo, North Dakota) have been mapped—but according to Dorfman, that’s just the beginning. Your neighborhood may be next.”

Pretty cool idea, I’ll be interested to see it when they get more cities mapped. Check it out.

Posted by Jeff


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