Virtual Island

As part of its efforts to help Islanders and visitors find their way around town through a virtual map, Google Earth surveying vehicles have been seen driving around Mercer Island lately.

According to Elaine Filadelfo, who works in Google’s Global communications and public affairs office, the popular Web site is currently gathering imagery for its new Street View feature of Google Maps. Islanders have reported seeing the vehicles in their neighborhoods this summer. Filadelfo said the imagery is gathered by driving cars — usually a sedan with a camera mounted on the roof — through the public roads in a given area.

The company is expanding its capabilities of producing digital maps, as the new feature will enable users to view and navigate the street level of various cities nationwide. When completed, Street View will create a virtual Mercer Island.

“Street View provides users with a rich, immersive browsing experience directly in Google Maps, enabling greater understanding of a specific location or area,” Filadelfo said. “With Street View, users can virtually walk the streets of a city and preview destinations like restaurants and hotels before arriving, or view an intersection for their driving route to know what sort of landmark to look for.”

When completed, Islanders will also be able to search neighboring communities.

“We think users across the country can benefit,” she said.

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