Thursday, December 05, 2019

Yandex Maps has Crowdsourced Street View

In Russia nearly all cars seem to be equipped with a dash cam. This proliferation of dash cams has come about because of the widespread lack of car insurance, a corrupt police force and a legal system which generally requires car owners to have concrete evidence when involved in an accident. Russian web mapping provider Yandex has turned this love of dash cams to its advantage.

Russian car drivers who own a smartphone can contribute to Yandex's crowdsourced 'Street View' service. If you fix a smartphone to your car windshield and use Yandex's People Card application your phone will take a photograph every two seconds while you drive and send all the pictures collected to Yandex maps. These photos may then be used in Yandex maps crowdsourced 'Street View' type feature.

The images submitted by car drivers are also used by Yandex to improve its maps. Data which can be automatically detected in the images, such as traffic signs, markings, parking lots and house numbers are all extracted from the photographs and fed back into Yandex maps. Helping to improve the map for other users.

If you open Yandex Maps the roads where 'Street View' imagery is available are shown in blue (Yandex call its crowdsourced Street View imagery 'Mirrors'). The best way to view Mirrors is by using Yandex directions. You can request driving directions by right-clicking on the map to set a departure point and destination. Once a route is shown on the map you can view an animation of all the 'Mirror' imagery available. This provides an animated preview of your entire route using crowdsourced dash cam imagery.

Mirrors is separate from Yandex's own panoramic 'Street View' imagery. This panoramic imagery is still available in Yandex Maps. To view this panoramic imagery you just need to select the person icon in the map menu and then click on the map.

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