The LIS Department of St. John’s is Creeping You on Google Maps

LIS Department Airport Heights

Google Maps has been offering its Street View service in St. John’s since 2013. While creepy at times, Street View can make it a lot easier to figure out exactly where a business is located or what highway exit sign to look out for. Despite this worldwide service being available here, did you know that the LIS Department from the City of St. John’s takes their own street-level photos and posts them online?

What Did the LIS Department Do?

The LIS Department (Land Information Services Department) of the municipal government went on a massive photo-taking spree in May 2018 and September 2019. At least, that’s when the photos were posted online. This involved a car strapped with cameras driving through city streets and taking intermittent pictures. They also chose to post these pictures online for the public to see with not all faces blurred.

How Can I See The Pictures?

If you zoom in enough to certain areas of St. John’s on Google Maps, you can see where the LIS Department has taken photos. Once you have zoomed in, grab the yellow guy from the bottom right corner. Drag him onto the map.

Google’s Street View images can be viewed anywhere that a blue line is visible on a street. The LIS Department has taken photos wherever you see a line of circles that take the shape of the road.

Some areas of the city have many pictures taken, while some have none. Let’s see a few areas with lots of pictures taken. Remember that every circle represents an area where you can view a street-level photo taken by the LIS Department.

Airport Heights

LIS Department Airport Heights

Cowan Heights

LIS Department Cowan Heights

Downtown/Waterford Valley

LIS Department Downtown

What Does All This Mean?

We’ve got more questions than answers ourselves.

  • Why would the city not just use Google Street View? Was it really worth the money to take essentially the same photos already taken by Google?
  • The LIS Department’s photos don’t always blur peoples’ faces, while Google’s do. Why didn’t the city blur them all?
  • For what reason did the city post these photos online at all? Why not just keep them for private use within the LIS Department?

There have been a few discussions online, but few answers can be found. One person claims that the city uses these pictures to get a more recent look when planning work. We reached out for comment but have yet to hear back from the city.

What do you think about this operation by the City of the St. John’s? Is it needed for the improvement of the city, or is it not necessary?