YOU SAID IT
“Anything Google can work with us on, be it a direct relationship or indirect relationship, it only works to our advantage.”
SYDNEY — Visitors and residents can view Cape Breton landscapes and landmarks from a new perspective accessible at the click of a mouse.
Google, the world’s most popular Internet search engine, extended its Street View application to more than 150 communities across Canada Tuesday, and that included many streetscapes across the island.
Street View provides a 360degree ground-level view of communities, compiled from photos taken by Google employees in vehicles mounted with specialized multi-camera GPS technology.
The company, which has been collecting images of Canadian cities since 2007, spent last summer driving through several of the main arterial streets in Sydney, Glace Bay and Port Hawkesbury, as well as around the Cabot Trail, Isle Madame and through Eskasoni.
But smaller communities such as Iona, Skye Glen and Gabarus were also mapped by Google.
“Anything Google can work with us on, be it a direct relationship or indirect relationship, it only works to our advantage,” said Destination Cape Breton Association CEO Mary Tulle.
“Any additional profile they can give to us as a region, as a community, really only enhances our opportunities to capitalize on that and build around that.”
The service first launched in the United States in 2007. It’s now available in more than 250 cities around the world and covers most of inhabited North America, with the exception of Labrador and Nunavut.
Tulle said it’s a new tool that tourism operators will have to promote themselves.
“Regardless of what the product is, or the location or the tool, that’s where we have the opportunity to delve into that a little bit deeper to see how we can capitalize on enhancing that profile.”
Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce president Joyce MacDougall added that she hoped it would change some people’s impressions of the area.
“(Those) who have visited or left maybe 25-30 years ago, and things have changed considerably since that time,” MacDougall said.
“ If you look at the ( facade programs) done in downtown Sydney, and in other areas like Louisbourg and Glace Bay, the downtown looks far better than it did even 10 years ago.”
Many people reacting to the new gadget on the Cape Breton Post’s Facebook site were amazed at its usability and clarity of images.
“I love it. I took a walk in New Waterford today without going home,” posted Adele Williamson Taylor.
Yet others warned that “Big Brother” was watching.
In an attempt to allay privacy concerns, Google blurred people’s faces and licence plates to comply with rules set out by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner.
“It is kind of creepy but yet it is also pretty cool,” Catherine Hill said.
And Jolene Campbell said Google didn’t include many residential areas like Curry Street or Tometary Drive in Howie Centre.
It also misses large sections of downtown Sydney on Charlotte and George streets, it hits only a few of the streets in New Waterford and it bypasses Catalone and Main-a-Dieu completely.
It only offers a distant glimpse of the Fortress of Louisbourg and there’s no view of the Keltic Lodge available.
Google Canada’s managing director Jonathan Lister said in a statement that Street View will hopefully “ boost tourism, heritage, real estate, education and everyday discovery.”
The street-level view can be accessed from Google Maps by clicking on the small orange figure that appears above the zoom control and dropping it on the map.
Last year Google captured images of the venues which will soon be in use at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler using a snowmobile to map out ski runs as well as various other Olympic venues.
Google Street View added streetscape images such as this one on the Esplanade in Sydney to more than 150 communities across the country, Tuesday.