Google StreetView

Most readers are probably familiar with Google StreetView.  It’s a great investigative tool but has received negative attention in recent months due to privacy concerns.  This week, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that tech-savvy law enforcement professionals in MA were able to use StreetView as an investigatory tool in a kidnapping case.  After receiving cell phone coordinates suggesting that the kidnapper might be in VA, investigators used Google StreetView, satellite view, and maps to give them a sense of the location and which buildings were nearby.  Since the cell phone triangulation data they received couldn’t pinpoint a location, they had to make some assumptions about the subject’s whereabouts.  But using these tools, they identified a nearby motel.  Their hunch proved correct and the suspect was taken into custody and the 9 year old victim is back home.

Such tools can be a tremendous resource for investigators.  In addition to Google, other companies offer similar tools. For example, Microsoft’s Live Maps “Bird’s Eye View” also provides great imagery.


One Response to Google StreetView

  1. Alan Pruitt says:

    Google StreetView is an impressive tool – when the areas that you are interested in are properly photographed and indexed by Google. Another investigator tip is to learn about the KML (Keyhole Markup Language). KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile. There are some really dramatic effects and preparation that can be accomplished by understanding KML and its interaction with Google Maps and Earth. Another equally impressive product is Google SketchUp for rendering 3-D illustrations on Google Earth. The learning curve is not that steep and there are plenty of tutorials available.


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