Tom's Blog

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Google Street View of Pleasant Valley Conservancy

Google Street View provides an on-the-ground view of a street and its surroundings. It works in a lot of areas of the United States, including, apparently, all of Dane County. It can be used to "experience" a bit of Pleasant Valley Conservancy without actually being there.

Go to Google Maps. In the "Search the Map" box type in 4609 Pleasant Valley Road, Black Earth, WI 53515 (or copy the address from this post and paste it into the box). A map comes up with a callout at our address. (You may need to adjust the zoom a bit.)

Click on the Street View tab and a window opens up to a view of Pleasant Valley Road with a stripe down the middle. Put your mouse on this stripe and "drive" along. At any point you can get a 360 degree view by just rotating the image with your mouse.

The view is, of course, only a single shot in time. From the vegetation and other cues it appears to be late summer/early fall, perhaps in 2007. You can see our barn and cabin, the wetland, the south slope with its little bluestem stand, and many other items. You can also move along the road in either direction. When you reach the next road junction, you can turn and proceed. If you want to see our south-facing slope and its prairie remnants from a distance, "drive" west to County F, then south on County F for a ways before doing a 360.

If you get tired of the scenery and you live in Dane County, you can type in your own address and see your house and yard.

How do they do it? Google has a bunch of vans with cameras mounted on top that tool the roads and takes the photos. Presumably GPS is used to connect the images to the maps. My daughter used to live in Mountain View, CA, the headquarters of Google, and saw the first van in action. The camera was mounted on a pole on the roof. Do a Wikipedia search for "Google Street View" to get a detailed explanation.

I'm not sure whether Google Street View is just a "stunt", or whether it can be really useful. I have used it to check up on the homes that both of my adult children are living in (Atlanta and Santa Fe). This is better than a snapshot, since you can move around and get the environmental context of a site.

Most of the locations where Google Street View has been acquired are urban areas, but a surprising amount of rural Wisconsin has been done. For instance, County F and Mounds View Road, where the Prairie Enthusiasts has some active work, can be viewed. The main roads in Iowa County have been done, as well as the communities of Barneveld, Ridgeway, and Dodgeville. Any Google Map image that shows a blue line when Street View is active can be viewed on the ground. Technology in action!


Blogger Deaw said...

Street View is a good idea!!! I'd recommend you to look through another resource.
My favourite is Street View service on

June 25, 2008 at 6:52 AM  

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