Thursday, March 19, 2009

Police Boxes get the Google treatment

Ever tried Google Maps? I'm sure you have. Like I, you've probably watched it evolve, spawn and germinate its way to become the Daddy of all online maps. I recall the time when Google kicked Streetmaps to the kerb with its birdseye photo POV shots of all major cities before expanding them to entire countries. I recall the excitement of Google Earth's debut, the software that dragged a reluctant camera around a spherical map of Earth (well it was reluctant on my below spec computer).

Google has taken the online map technology and vaulted it up and over another seemingly impossible benchmark: we can now explore the environments on foot.

Granted this technology has been applied to the US for a few years now, but its only recently been applied to the UK.

Dave Gorman wrote a blog today on how he found himself on Google's 3D street view maps. Having spotted - and been equally spotted - by the Google van on its virgin data pilgrimage through London complete with its Google camera strapped on the roof, Mr Gorman later discovered been caught on Google's survey camera.

Now I've never seen a Google van (actually that's not true, I did see one when checking out New York's street view maps on Google - I caught sight of the van's captured reflection in a mirrored shop window, but I don't think it counts), so I couldn't revel in the delight of spotting myself spotting a Google vehicle that in turn, was spotting me.

So having decided there was no way I could join in the self-voyeuristic fun, I wondered what other landmark I could find and thereby blindside this fantastic step in free navigational software for something far more worthy of its place on the internets: wasting time and having a lark.

I've never found a closet big enough to hide my geek qualities, so I wasn't ashamed to consider attempting to find how many police boxes there were visible on Google Maps. Some I found using the Street Walk mode, some using the overhead POV mode.

For those strangely still reading, here are the results:

Earl's Court, London

The most famous and pretty recent - put up around the time of the Doctor
Who movie with Paul McGann in '96. Quite a nice box. Seen it myself, though I always forget where it is when I head into London.


No street view yet, so here we have the overhead of the box in the excellent Museum of Historic Buildings.
Wilson's Street, Glasgow

We're into Scotland and we're seeing red. There are other Scottish red boxes, but this was another fortunate find on Google's street view.

Great Western Road, Glasgow

And here's another blue box found in the same city. Appears to have an eyepatch god bless it..

Catherdal Square, Glasgow

A vertible police feast is our Glasgow. Here's another - once red, now blue. I take back my comment about red being the colour of Scotland's police boxes, but then I am happy to say I'm not a box-spotter. That would be very, very sad. Nay, I just sit trawling google maps for police boxes, uncertain why he's doing it. That's cool. Really, it is.

Wetherby Police Station, West Yorkshire

Another birdseye view. Look for the highlighted circle. This isn't an original, but a replica box for all those who care (and I suspect if you care, you knew that already). For more details - and indeed for direction to these specific locations the old fashioned way (and thereby really punctuating this entry with keen traditional slap in the face of googlemaps), click this link to the wonderful TARDIS library.

Thanks to the excellent for some extra data in this pointless, pointless research.

If you spot any more police boxes on Google Maps, don't hestitate to turn off your computer and do something far less boring instead. For more stupid google sightseeing, twitter ye this.