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How Google Street View can help keep you safe in foreign cities

Google's Street View can make tourists more familiar with their surroundings than ever before, and this boon to safety more than outweighs any spurious privacy concern

When travelling through a foreign city on foot, it's a very good idea to know exactly where you're going. Travel advisers say that if you look confident, you're less likely to be targeted by muggers and pickpockets, who are keen to pick on gadget- and cash-laden tourists.

Google's Street View can make tourists more familiar with their surroundings than ever before, and to complain about privacy concerns in light of its services to public safety is tantamount to insanity.

I experienced this first-hand on a recent trip to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. The first paragraph in a leaflet given to me about local amenities was to plan my route carefully and look confident, because it puts off the local rogues. What did I do? I hopped on Street View, looked at my on-foot journey from street level, and discovered exactly which building to turn right at, which statue to turn left at.

Your house may well be on Street View -- mine is -- but it's a far cry from the threat of local criminals who know the area like the back of their sticky hands. They already know you have a dog and therefore probably don't have a burglar alarm. They know your double glazing is only on the front of your house.

So calm down, and remember that the next time you visit London, San Francisco or any of the other cities Street View is available in, you've got the option to be safer than ever.