Google has revealed that its Street View cars have captured more than 10 million miles of imagery through its Google Street View project.
This would amount to circling the Earth more than 400 times, the company told CNET. Since its launch more than 10 years ago, Google Street View has expanded to include footpaths, inside buildings, ski slopes, up mountains, and even to the international Space Station.
Besides its Street View car, the company also uses hikers with cameras attached to their packs, camels and sheep to cover less accessible areas.
The tech giant’s aerial mapping service, Google Earth, has 36m square miles of satellite image, which anyone can browse. With that vast number of images, the company has mapped out the parts of the world where 98% of people live.
This is the the first time Google has revealed how much of the world it has mapped and provides an insight into how much data the company has gathered. It also highlights how easily with this data the search engine behemoth can deliver local advertising.
Google generates the majority of its $140 billion in annual revenue from targeted ads, which are supported by user data. The company has declined to reveal the amount of revenue that ads on Google Maps generate.
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“Imagery is at the core of everything we do,” Ethan Russell, a director of product at Google Maps, told CNET in an email. “We think of it as the foundation of the entire mapmaking process.”
Although the figures are impressive, they do highlight just how much data it has on its users and further stokes concerns over the company having too much information. Google and other major Silicon Valley firm are currently under significant scrutiny over their data collection practices.
Google Maps came under fire last year when the Associated Press reported that it continued to track people’s location even after they had turned-off location sharing on their device. The company sparked controversy for reportedly sharing user location data with law enforcement to assist with leads.