Google team, local residents, map remote Nunavut hamlet
Published Thursday, August 23, 2012 8:25AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 23, 2012 11:51AM EDT
It wasn’t a typical day in the office for members of Google’s Street View team as they roamed around a small Nunavut hamlet on Thursday in an effort to build the most comprehensive and accurate map of Canada’s Arctic.
But the Google team wasn’t alone.
Residents of Cambridge Bay have been recruited to help Google map the remote community.
“High above the Arctic circle, it’s a place reachable only by plane or boat,” reads an Aug. 22 blog post by Google Canada. “Using the tools of 21st century cartography, we’re empowering a community and putting Cambridge Bay on the proverbial map of tomorrow.”
The mapping efforts began Wednesday and will continue Thursday throughout the village of 1,500.
The current Google map of Cambridge Bay appears as only a handful of streets.
The tech giant is using a “Street View Trike”, which can maneuver around the gravel roads and into tight spaces too narrow for cars to photograph the area. Google is also using “Innerspace” kits to take pictures indoors.
Meanwhile, community members will offer their local and cultural expertise to add to the map.
“There are 4,000 years’ worth of stories waiting to be told on this map,” said Google Canada in its blog. “Today, we’re setting out on an ambitious mission to tell some of those stories and to build the most comprehensive map of the region to date.”
Helping the Google team is Chris Kalluk, a Cambridge Bay resident and mapping expert.
The Google team met Kalluk in September during a Google Earth outreach workshop in Vancouver where participants learned to edit Google Maps data using the online tool Map Maker.
On Wednesday, Kalluk hosted a community mapping event where village elders, local mapping experts and high school students used Map Maker to add new roads, rivers, lakes, as well as the local hospital, daycare and golf course to the Google map of Cambridge Bay.
“This is a place with a vast amount of local knowledge and a rich history,” said Kalluk in a press release. “By putting these tools in the hands of our people, we will tell Nunavut’s story to the world.”
Kalluk will be trained on how to use some of Google’s equipment to map surrounding communities.
Cambridge Bay elder Anna Nahogaloak said it is important for those outside Nunavut to be able to see Canada’s largest and most northern territory.
“People are always asking how we live, how we survive. They’re always asking about everything. This will help them understand and learn more about Nunavut,” she said, adding that it’s important for the locals to contribute to the mapping process.
“The land is everybody’s land. We all share it. It is especially important for children who are always learning and trying to understand the world.”
Google said it's the farthest north their team has ever travelled and the logistics proved to be a challenge. Materials had to be shipped in by air and the weather has been unpredictable. The trip was planned rain or shine.
Despite the challenges, Google’s managing director in Canada Chris O'Neill said in a press release that the company is happy to be able to provide a glimpse of life in Nunavut.
“Canada’s Arctic is one of the most incredible and remote places on earth. We’re proud to be able to show the world this spectacular landscape and share a part of Canadian culture few people have ever seen.”
The search-engine giant said it will take a few months to process the imagery taken in Cambridge Bay and publish it on Google Maps.
With files from The Canadian Press