updated 04:15 pm EST, Tue December 13, 2011
Special site provides before and after archive
In July, Google committed to digitally archive the devastation of earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan on March 11. Google has finished its efforts and has published the imagery on Google Maps using its Street View feature. Google has also created a special website, Memories for the Future, which offers both before and after photos.
To provide the images, Google had teams drive more than 44,000 kilometers (27,340 miles) through the affected regions, capturing street-level 360-degree panoramic views. Google has also timestamped the images, a new feature that it has added to Street View.
While this initiative is likely an extension of the company's philosophy, there may also be a public relations element to it as well. Earlier this year, Google's Street View app was embroiled in controversy over possible invasion of privacy issues. Google found itself involved in several legal battles in countries including Switzerland and the Netherlands.