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Google Maps has selected The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) as its first partner for the company’s Street Trekker loan pilot program. In its mission to “build the very best map of the world,” Google is loaning its state-of-the-art Street View Trekker equipment — comprised of 40-pound backpacks equipped with a 15-lens camera system — to the HVCB.
The equipment will be worn by the staff of HVCB-selected eco-tourism company Hawaii Forest and Trail as they walk Hawaii’s remote hiking trails. Throughout these hikes, the Street Trekker backpacks will be taking photos from several angles every 2.5 seconds. These images will then be pieced together to form an interactive, 360-degree panorama that will be available on Google Maps later this year.
Google Maps is not the only party benefitting from the exchange. HVCB’s president and CEO, John Monahan, stated that the project will play a significant role in both planning and promoting travel to Hawaii.
“Maps and panoramic imagery serve an integral role in the vacation planning process,” said Monahan. “Incorporating this interactive and immersive technology on our GoHawaii.com site once it’s processed and available online will deliver a powerful travel planning tool for potential Hawaii visitors across the globe.”
After phase one of the project is completed on Hawaii Island, Google Maps plans to expand to the other five main Hawaiian Islands and then to unmapped territories around the world.
Google is currently calling for applicants, specifically tourism boards, non-profit organizations, government agencies, universities and research organizations interested in documenting a certain location. The application asks for a written proposal complete with the location to be mapped, the significance of the location, expected capture highlights and trip plans.