Oh, snap! Google hits town


POSTED: Sunday, April 19, 2009

Google Street View has landed in Hawaii, taking pictures of public streets to help residents and current and pre-arrival visitors find their way around.

Word of mouth always could spread like wildfire, but what's faster than wildfire? Twitter, the online social network.

“;The Google car with cameras mounted on it just passed me. Too cool!”; posted one Twitter user.

A few minutes and Tweets, or posts, later another person opined it was about time Google got Street View to Hawaii.

The technology allows Google Maps users to drag an orange, person-shaped icon over Street View-enabled areas to “;zoom in to see a street from above ... as if you were walking down the street,”; said Kate Hurowitz, Google spokeswoman.

Street View was recently launched for the U.K. and the Netherlands, and is available for Japan, Australia, France, Italy, Spain and the U.S.

The company does not allow photo shoots of cars and drivers, nor did Hurowitz divulge the number of cars that are here, whether they are on other islands, etc.

However, she sent a courtesy photo of a camera-festooned car. The cameras' multiple lenses take images that are “;basically stitched together”; to provide a 360-degree, navigable view.

“;It can be really useful when you're trying to find a particular place,”; she said.

Users can get directions or see whether there is parking near a desired destination.

There is no target date for the Hawaii Street View roll-out.

The red flags of privacy concerns shoot up with such Big-Brotheresque technology, but Street View images are not in real time. They are weeks or months old, making personal security less of an issue. However, “;we take privacy very seriously,”; so faces and license plates are blurred, she said. Still, anyone wanting an image of themselves, their house or car further obscured or removed need simply click a link to report the concern.

Privacy protection aside, some law enforcement agencies have added Street View to their arsenals to help catch criminals, Hurowitz said.

Radio cuts

Radio morning show personalities Dave Lancaster and Mike Gatlin lost their jobs Friday at Salem Media of Hawaii Inc.

“;It's all about cost savings,”; said General Manager Jeff Coelho.

Lancaster worked at KAIM-FM 95.5 “;The Fish”; since the fall of 1998, hired right after he was laid off from KSSK-AM 590.

Gatlin, also known as Mike G., recently had been promoted to morning show co-host on country-formatted KHCM-FM 97.5.

The stations will now have solo morning hosts “;and be satellite-driven from 10 o'clock on,”; Coelho said.

Radio gigs are among increasingly scarce media jobs. Nevertheless, Lancaster joked, “;If anybody is in need of a slightly used ... pre-owned deejay ...”;

“;It was a great 10 years at a station where I got to serve God, I got to travel to Jamaica and Haiti, and it touched my life and it changed my life forever.”;

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)