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Oahu, Maui images show on Google Street View


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POSTED: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Google Street View images of Oahu and Maui were launched via Google Maps  yesterday to help residents and current and pre-arrival visitors find their way around, as reported in this space in April.

The easiest way to use it is to go to Google Maps, type in any address and drag the orange peg-man icon from the left side of the screen to “;any spot on the map, and it'll open up the Street View image,”; said spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo, of Google Inc. global communications and public affairs.

Not only can users view the one image, you can click and move the image to see beyond that spot.

Filadelfo did not have a count of the number of images taken by the Google Street View car in Hawaii.

“;It's hard to quantify,”; since the intention is to have several angles of each image and to have them “;stitched together”; to create a seamless experience for users.

“;I think it took a couple months to drive around the islands of Oahu and Maui,”; said Laura Melahn, Google product marketing manager.

The image harvesting was done by contractors for Google using its newest and latest camera, providing high-resolution imaging.

The Google team blurred faces and license plates to assuage privacy concerns, even though the images do not reflect real-time activity.

“;Still, if you do see things that made it through or make you uncomfortable,”; there is a “;report a problem”; button in the left corner of any Street View image, Melahn said.

Google Inc. worked with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau to create an online gallery of the best beaches as well as one titled “;Obama Hometown Hotspots.”;

Google Street View also posts user-contributed photos via panoramio.com and picasa.com.

The Street View images of Waimea Bay, for instance, were taken when surf was calm, but one day, user photos might show the bay when its famous surf is going off.

Technology and filters are in place to keep any inappropriate images from appearing in the user-contributed galleries, Filadelfo said.

Melahn was born and raised in Kailua, and while she didn't get to come home to work on the imagery-gathering task, she will be coming home for Thanksgiving to see her family, she said.

Filadelfo offered to come with her, to help with the dishes.

KGMB signal upgrade

This week should bring good news for Oahu households that lost the ability to watch KGMB-TV via its digital, over-the-air signal.

The Federal Communications Commission approved an application late Friday for the station's transmitter to move to a better location and boost power, which will result in “;increased coverage,”; said Keith Aotaki, director of engineering.

There may still be some households that don't get the signal, even if the next-door neighbor gets it clearly, because of the nature of digital signals, Aotaki said.

As for neighbor island viewers still unable to watch the station since its Oct. 26 swap with KFVE-TV, “;we're working just as diligently”; as they did on getting the Oahu signal strengthened, said Rick Blangiardi, vice president and general manager of KGMB and KHNL-TV.

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