There’s More than Streets with Google Maps


Namie, Japan
Namie, Japan

The 21,000 former residents of Namie, Japan, are forbidden by the Japanese government to move back to their homes in the Fukushima district. Namie Mayor, Tamotsu Baba, contacted Google and asked them to do street views of their vacated town. 

Those of us in the older generation feel that we received this town from our forebearers, and we feel great pain that we cannot pass it down to our children… We want this Street View imagery to become a permanent record of what happened to Namie-machi in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. (Source: Huffington Post)

Places to Check Out Before You Go… or Virtually

Google Street View began in 2007 with 360-degree panoramic views of streets in five U.S. cities. Google has taken this technology to all seven continents now and to mountain peaks and under the sea. You can stroll through the White House or various museums. Obviously, Google isn’t limited to driving around in cars or vans either… check out their gallery for heritage sites, parks, and much more, that they’ve documented for us.

You can watch the 360-degree panorama pan through the scene or actually go to the locations  in Google maps and follow along with the Google trekkers.  For instance, after watching the panorama for the University of Glasgow, I went to the location and followed along the blue line to see where they walked around the campus.  I “took the picture” of the arches in the slideshow below. (I’d almost backpacked the Bright Angel Trail into the Grand Canyon decades ago, so I clicked along and enjoyed my “armchair” hike down to the Colorado River, too.)

University Campuses in the Gallery

So far, they’ve strolled through:

  • Boston University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Keio University (Minato, Japan)
  • Northwestern University
  • Stanford University
  • Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland)
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of San Diego
  • University of Washington
  • Waseda University (Shinjuku, Japan)

Google’s World Wonders Project is one part of this effort, using videos, photos, 3D modeling, Street View, and other technology at modern and ancient world heritage sites.  Their goal is  “… to make the world heritage sites available to everyone and to digitally preserve them for future generations.”

How could this technology help you and your ministry? Trip-planning and getting oriented to your destination would be obvious answers, of course. Do you have any ideas?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

NOTE: All images are copyrighted by Google.

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