Published: January 17, 2006, 1:17 PM PST
A Web site launched by Dutch real estate agents will allow house-hunters and the merely curious to view every inch of the Netherlands--up close--starting next week.
Funda.nl, which lists 75 percent of the Dutch property that's for sale and is used by 2.6 million visitors every month, will offer a database of 15 million photographs initially, growing it to 21 million images by year-end.
Full-circle pictures taken at 20 meter intervals (about 65 feet) in metropolitan areas and every 50 meters (about 165 feet) in rural areas will show the entire country at street level, with satellite images supplied by Google Earth offering a bird's-eye view.
The pictures, put together by Cyclomedia, a spin-off of Delft Technical University, show views taken from public roads and are intended to help house hunters who want to check if their dream house is located next to a garbage dump.
"This is going to save a lot of people a lot of drives," said Funda chief Marque Joosten.
The site will also be a boon for the inquisitive.
"We also see that people look up the addresses of celebrities to see how they live," Joosten said. "We assume that's only going to accelerate next week when they can watch detailed pictures of the streets."
Traffic to the Funda site peaked last year during a siege involving terror suspects in a borough of The Hague.
About 16 million people live in the tiny Netherlands, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
Google Earth, which allows Internet users to zoom in on locations around the world, caused concern when it was launched last year. Governments feared terrorists might use the service to help plot attacks.
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