A couple of interesting patent applications surfaced at Google recently, involving the use of photography in Local Search, to identify whether or not businesses actually exist, or might be closed, or might be Web Spam.
The first of these looks at Street Views images, and is:
Systems and Methods of Correlating Business Information to Determine Spam, Closed Businesses, and Ranking Signals
Inventors: Andrea Frome, Howard Wellington Trickey, Melanie Clements, Ethan G. Russell, Paul Eastlund, Diego Ariel Gertzenstein, Douglas Richard Grundman, Baris Yuksel
Assigned to: Google, Inc.
US Patent Application 20150154607
Published June 4, 2015
Filed: February 24, 2011