Alphabet-owned Google is re-launching its Street View service in India with fresh imagery that has been licensed from local companies – Genesys International and Tech Mahindra.
"Our India launch marks the first time in the world that Street View data collection is being brought to life completely by local partners," Google India says in a blog post.
This comes over six years after the government rejected the tech giant's plans to put 360-degree, panoramic and street level imagery online due to security concerns.
Starting today, the Street View service will be available for 10 cities in India, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Nashik, Vadodara, Ahmednagar, and Amritsar. Google plans to expand this to more than 50 cities by the end of 2022.
Many of these features and capabilities built into Google Maps have been born out of deep collaborations with local authorities and companies, the search giant says.
"We were the first Indian firm to perform street imaging of all major cities in India. Our fleet is still swiftly photographing Indian cities, bringing to life our city's amazing tapestry of streets and landmarks and allowing us to comfortably visit our old neighbourhoods or plan our trips," says Sajid Malik, managing director of Genesys International.
Users can launch Street View on Google Maps by zooming into a road in any of these target cities, and tap the area they want to view. This allows users to know the local cafes, and cultural hotspots, or check out the local neighborhood. "Street View will help you navigate and explore new corners of the country and the world in a more visual and accurate way, enabling you to fully experience what it's like to be in these places, right from your phone or computer," the company says.
Google is also making the Street View API available to local developers to enable them to deliver its mapping experiences within their apps and services.
"Today, there is an increasing need for technologies that turn insights from GIS (Geographic Information Systems) into ready products that can be utilized by customers," says Birendra Sen, business head, Business Process Services, Tech Mahindra. "Our partnership with Google is another step toward delivering high-quality and immersive mapping experiences to the people of India."
Google also announced partnerships with local traffic authorities to help India improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion. "To help support road safety efforts in the country, Google Maps will now show speed limits information shared by traffic authorities, starting with Bengaluru and Chandigarh. We are looking forward to partnering with more cities in surfacing speed limits info on Google Maps," the company says.
"Our teams at Google have been using existing traffic patterns and the power of machine learning to help cities better optimize their traffic light timings, helping them reduce wait time at intersections, road congestion, and carbon emissions as well. We have partnered with Bengaluru traffic police to help them optimize their traffic light timings – and we have some exciting initial results. The pilot resulted in almost a 20% reduction in congestion across all the intersections. We will be scaling this to all of Bengaluru, and extending this pilot to Kolkata and Hyderabad as well in the coming months," the tech giant adds.