Expanding the Market
Use cases for new applications have been investigated in early stage academic research and private sector companies since the start of the first street-level photography collections. However, due to the high cost of data acquisition, we do not believe that many of these use cases have ever been commercialized or have only seen limited application. Existing market leaders offer constrained licenses at expensive costs, which stifles innovation.
In 2019, there were 225 papers related to analysis of street view objects that aim to derive quantifiable insights on spatial surroundings. Majority of research in these areas focus on a single city, with the small number of datasets being the constraining factor preventing wider usage. Street view photography has been used to associate quality of human health and well being, urban perception, transportation and mobility, greenery, walkability, urban morphology, real estate, and socio-economic development (Source).
Researchers in the health and well being domain use street view images to derive numerous indicators on environmental attributes that can be quantifiably analysed to measure association with the local population's health and well-being. These results can be used to inform policymakers, government officials, and local leaders to address issues and improve societal factors.
Next, street view images have been used to analyze attributes of the urban form. For instance, researchers have been able to use street view images to identify which locations would have high sun glare, which leads to worse driving conditions and more traffic. Expanding that further, data derived from street view images can have direct impact on transportation and mobility. There have been a number of papers comparing the frequency of pedestrian and cycling accidents to road infrastructure characteristics. Street walk-ability is increasingly a concern for humans as an estimated 650 million people are in a wheelchair or have limited mobility. Street view maps offer an opportunity to create a virtual walk through or quantifiable metrics.
A neighborhood's urban morphology is its urban function, vibrancy, and appearance. Many of these metrics are subjective, but can give insight to perceptual attributes such as safety and wealth, vibrancy, comfort, and attitude. Real estate of storefront and buildings can be analyzed through street view data. Metrics like property prices have shown strong association with specific imagery, greenery, and urban morphology. Similarly, gentrification can be measured by comparing the visible changes of buildings in a location.
Finally, there are other use cases that are not discussed that could be unlocked through low-cost, accessible location data. Street view images have been used to augment new models for air quality. Architects also have used street view images to study the lifecycle of buildings, optimize window orientation, and estimate energy usage.