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Update Google Street View in New Orleans!

I’m constantly turning to Google Maps’ Street View when I hear about a restaurant or something I want to check out in New Orleans. And every time, I’m reminded that Google hasn’t updated their Street View imagery of the city since I lived there in 2008. Street View is an amazing thing that Google does, but once they’ve photographed a city, they take on a responsibility to ensure it’s an accurate representation of the place. New Orleans is one of the country’s fastest changing cities the country’s fastest growing city, but if someone considering a visit (or a move) there looks at Street View, they would get a terrible idea of its condition seven years after Katrina. I fear that their images are so old they’re now actively hurting the city, and no street view would be better than the inaccurate picture they’re currently painting. I wondered if anyone shared my frustration, and lo and behold I found an excellent blog dedicated to the subject: Update Google Street View in New Orleans! Take some time to browse the examples they’ve photographed — the difference between Google’s 2007 depiction of the city and today’s reality is stark, to say the least.

In 2008, the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana wrote the post on the Google Blog that announced Street View was coming to New Orleans:

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Googleplex and I expressed my interest in seeing Street View come to Louisiana, so I’m excited to see the launch of Street View imagery for Greater New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. This remarkable tool allows us to share with the world life as we see it, here on the ground in my home state.

The author of that post was Mitch Landrieu, who’s since been elected mayor of New Orleans. Five years later, the only thing remarkable about Street View there is how inaccurate it is. Street View cars were seen around the city over a year ago — how out of date will those pictures be before they ever make it online?

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34 thoughts on “Update Google Street View in New Orleans!

  1. Wow — I can only imagine how frustrating this would be to homeowners and residents. Here’s hoping Google responds…especially now that your post has been Freshly Pressed and will see such incredible viewership! :)

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  2. It would be nice to be able to archive those old views so we’d always remember what happened and so we could compare and see the progress that was made.

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  3. While it sucks to not have updated photos I highly doubt google street view would hurt the city. If people don’t realise that things change over the course of 7 years then they probably aren’t travellers. I am hoping to get to New Orleans next year via a road trip starting in Canada. Pictures like that wouldn’t deter me. I agree with the above poster who mentioned archiving old pictures. That would be cool.

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    • It might be extreme to say the old photos are hurting the city. But you’d be surprised by how often I have to explain to people that New Orleans has largely recovered from Katrina and many parts of the city are better-off than they were before the storm. The perception of New Orleans as a battered and beaten city persists, I think, because most Americans haven’t seen very much of the city since the hurricane was on the nightly news every day. Also, as someone who’s currently looking for housing in New Orleans, it really makes it tough to figure out which neighborhoods are bouncing back since street view is so out of date.

      The road trip sounds great! Hope you blog about your journey. :)

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      • It is a bit extreme but I do like the passion you display for the city. Did those people that you explained this to see street view and then conclude this though? Yes, I do feel that people see images on tv and that narrative stays in their mind until it is changed. But someone who is actively seeking out a new location and uses street view surely must be going to other sources as well to get as much information. Let’s hope they do respond and update it. I guess the more good press the city gets the better. I am SO excited for that road trip and I will be blogging about it.

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  4. I love New Orleans but haven’t been back in years. Google would have had me fooled if your blog and the link hadn’t pointed this out! (On the other hand, it’s also very interesting to see the transformation in the Google vs Current photos)

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  5. Congrats on getting FP’d! I love me some Nawlins, and this is a great project to get updated photos on Google Maps. Thanks for the link to the nolastreetview blog, it’s really fascinating and I would actually like to see Google archive those photos and/or provide a way to show side by side pics, it’s amazing how much of a difference there’s been.

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  6. This is interesting because with so many natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and fires, cities and towns transform. Updating makes sense, and so does realism.

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  7. I traveled to New Orleans in Jan 2011 and absolutely loved it. It’s so sad to see these images on Google. You are absolutely right Google does have a responsibility, just like anyone who posts anything on the internet has a responsibility for what they share. They are representing a city that has been through so much and tourism will help it grow. Have you started an online petition? I’ll sign it if you do!

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  8. I used to live in New Orleans and still visit there frequently and one of the things I love is showing people how to get around New Orleans. But, whenever I pull up Google Maps the pictures are so terrible I was not surprised when someone said, “Ugh, why would you go there?!” Thanks for making this post.

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  9. While I see your point that Street View cars were seen around the city a year ago and they are yet to be updated, we should really be taking our hats off to Google for their commitment for providing us with this wonderful device, whether it is up-to-date or not.

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  10. I don’t see how “they take on a responsibility to ensure it’s an accurate representation of the place” as you put it.
    A printed map will become outdated. A picture book will become outdated. Sold postcards will become outdated. Do you also want to put that enormous responsibility on all of these publishers?

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    • With a printed map or picture book, there’s an expectation from the reader that it’s a snapshot of a moment in time. While nobody would confuse Street View with a live image of a city, I don’t think it would be in the forefront of the minds of people unfamiliar with a city that it might look vastly different than what they see in the pictures. Street View becomes a de-facto calling card for the city, but it’s one that’s entirely controlled by people outside the city. I think if Google really wants to document the physical world in the same way they’ve indexed the web, it’s fair to ask them to keep major cities up to date.

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  11. Lauren @ Powered by Oatmeal says:

    This is hilarious! I’m moving to NOLA and went down to find an apartment about a month ago. When I told my mother where it was, I couldn’t figure out why she was so uncomfortable…turns out even magazine looks like shit on google street view! I’m pretty sure she was already formulating plans to sabotage the move, but when we realized what was going on she calmed down. You’d think they would have caught up with this by now.

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    • That’s funny! My mom had the same reaction when I told her I was moving to New Orleans — but I was doing it in 2007, when it actually looked like that. :) Good luck with the move!

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  12. It’s a good point you make. Most places would be relatively the same, but they should update it a little more often for places that have recently gone through major changes. It isn’t a money issue, since google obviously has 100 bajillion dollars (bajillion is real, google it), so they should be able to do it with no problem. Hey, give me a car I’ll drive around the city and get paid to do it no problemo.

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  13. free penny press says:

    As someone who is packing (well not as I type) to move to NOLA this bothers me.. Give us current info Google Maps. I have a friend who lives there & the Google map still shows his house from years ago and it’s not even there any more.. Huh????

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  14. Annawantimes says:

    Actually, I’ve heard that Google has updated Street View in New Orleans, around April 30th of 2011. However, they’ve yet to update the images, leading me to believe that they haven’t actually gotten any new imagery. :|

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  15. Pingback: New Orleans in 3D | Matt Thomas

  16. Pingback: Google Street View updates New Orleans imagery post-Hurricane Katrina | Digital Trends

  17. Pingback: Google’s Street View Car Starts Mapping Sandy Damage - GEEKKENYA

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