In April, Asheville residents noticed several small sedans zipping around town, each with a short pole and camera mounted to its top. The cars were traversing the city, recording the panoramic views now available online. A Google spokesperson told Xpress that the company, which already has views of other North Carolina cities such as Durham and Chapel Hill available, was moving into smaller regions.
Some people have complained that the effort by Google, which also offers Google Earth maps using satellite imagery, is an invasion of privacy. Google, which says it's trying to provide useful information to users, says it's sensitive to privacy concerns and sticks to public roads for the Street View mapping. There's also a procedure in place to allow people to request that specific views be taken down.
The Street View mapping isn't perfect. The maps don't cover 100 percent of city streets, and typing in an address won't always bring up the exact spot on the street. But overall, the effort offers users trying to navigate Asheville a powerful new tool. Google also allows users to embed its maps into Web sites.
Find the Asheville Street Map feature by going to http://maps.google.com and clicking on Asheville.