November 19, 2014

Ithaca Gorges, Landmarks Debut on Google Street View

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People all over the world will now be able to see that ‘Ithaca is Gorges’;  on Wednesday, Google released Street View images of Ithaca’s scenic areas.

The partnership, between Google maps and the City of Ithaca’s Geographic Information System Program, began in May after being accepted to Google’s Trekker Loan Program, which includes expanded mapping services that are inaccessible to Google’s car, according to GIS staff member Susan Nixson.

The equipment — which includes a backpack with a 15-lens camera system that automatically takes pictures every 2.5 seconds — is delivered to third party participants, who collect footage of these destinations, according to Susan Cadrecha, a press representative from Google.

“By loaning the equipment to organizations around the world with the Trekker Loan Program, we can capture images from new locations more quickly, and improve our ability [to] make these images available online for all to enjoy,” she said.

Cadrecha added that Google is interested in partnering with universities.

“[Google is] interested in partnering with organizations like tourism boards, government agencies, non-profits, universities and research groups around the world who can help obtain needed permissions for interesting places,” she said.

Nixson said reading about the Trekker’s visit to the Grand Canyon prompted her to apply for participation in the program and added she believes Ithaca’s natural beauty led Google to partner with the city.

“‘Ithaca is Gorges’ — I think that saying is really heard around the country,” she said.

Nixson and other volunteers explored and took photos Ithaca’s numerous gorge trails, waterfalls, parks and other natural landmarks, according to a press release from the City of Ithaca.

The footage went live on Wednesday morning, after a few months of Google processing the photos, compiling them into panoramic images and formatting them for their Street View service, according to Nixson.

The release was scheduled to coincide with International Geographic Information System Day, a day that celebrates applications of the technology, Nixson added.

“It’s an educational effort around the world to make people aware of how [Geographic Information System] technology impacts, and improves, their everyday lives,” she said.

Ithaca’s Geographic Information System program — part of the city’s Department of Public Works — handles internal city projects and uses mapping technology to increase the ease and efficiency of municipal workers’ jobs, according to the program’s website.

Nixson said she hopes the collaboration with Google will contribute to the city’s goals.

“In addition to the tremendous recreational and tourism uses these tools provide, they can also be used by a number of professions such as emergency services, educators, event planners and maintenance crews,” she said.