Technology


Google Street View seen to boost country’s tourism




Posted on February 04, 2014


IN 1962, communication theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the term “global village”-- describing how electric technology managed to shrink the world into something as small as a village with information being transferred almost instantaneously from one point to the other making physical distance irrelevant.

More than 50 years later that “global village” has shrunk to the point where any one person can get an up-close and in-depth view of almost anywhere in almost no time at all with the help of Google Street View.

Google Street View is a feature available in Google Maps and Google Earth where anyone can see a street, a park, a landmark, a natural wonder through a 360-degree panoramic image taken at street level (reminiscent of the Encarta Encyclopedia virtual tours).

Launched in 2007, it then ventured out from the continental United States and into different countries and continents.

This year, it has landed in the Philippines and with the cooperation of the Department of Tourism (DoT), it aims to capture the beauty and the reason why it is more fun in the Philippines.

“Our partnership with Google to bring Street View to the Philippines will allow us to create a digital experience of our landscapes, which we hope will entice more people around the world to learn about our diverse offerings and visit our country. For us here at home, Street View can also help make the maps of our country even ‘more fun’ and interesting, as well as enable Filipinos to explore their country more, which in turn can help boost domestic travel and tourism,” DoT Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. said.

The Google Street View team will go around the 7,107 islands using the Street View cars furnished with a set-up of 15 cameras that will simultaneously capture 360 degrees of a certain location and will be sent to a control center where every image will be stitched together to form one.

With the country being an archipelago, however, many places would be inaccessible using cars, which is why the team will make use of the Google Trekker, a 40-pound, 15-camera setup backpacking technology that a person will use to take photographs of places with uneven terrains or narrow side streets and the Google Trolley, a setup with a dolly-like mechanism enabling it to be pushed and pulled in different directions.

The Street View team started driving on the day of the launch and said that their priority right now is to capture Metro Manila -- with it being a capital -- but will work their way down the whole country.

“We are consulting the DoT for recommendations on where best to take Street View next,” said Ryan Morales, Google Philippines marketing manager.

As a teaser for the project, the Street View team covered prior to the launch four sites in the historic Intramuros: Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, Baluarte de San Diego and the Plaza San Luis Complex.

Street View can be accessed upon signing in with one’s Google account, going to the Google Maps site at maps.google.com and drag the “person” on top of the zoom buttons called Pegman to a place outlined in blue (those are the places covered by Street View) and all that’s left is to enjoy the view. -- Zsarlene B. Chua