August 20, 2011

Amazon Rainforest Coming To Google Street View

Google has begun the process of mapping the Amazon rainforest for its Street View service, according to various media reports on Thursday and Friday.

According to Emma Barnett, Digital Media Editor for the Telegraph, the Menlo Park, California-based tech company has partnered with the Foundation for a Sustainable Amazon (FAS) to secure footage of the endangered rainforest.

"The team deployed to map the area by the technology giant have been traveling by boat and bike, armed with cameras, to collect panoramic images of the location and communities who live there," Barnett reported on August 18.

"It has also employed some of the local indigenous people to pedal Google´s tricycles around their communities, which have cameras attached to them, in order to capture images of the different groups of people inhabiting the Amazon," she added.

FAS first contacted Google in 2009, presenting them with a proposal "to digitize high-quality images from the Amazon basin to demonstrate the effects of poor global sustainability efforts and widespread deforestation on the landscape," BBC news reported on Friday.

The British news organization also noted that the project, which was set to kick off in the town of Tumbira, will use street-level photographs as well as new technology designed to snap images within buildings and community centers along the Amazon River itself.

"In this first phase of the project, the Google and FAS teams will visit and capture imagery from a 50km section of the Rio Negro River, extending from the Tumbira community near Manaus--the capital of the state of Amazonas--to the Terra Preta community," members of the Google Earth Outreach and Google Street View teams said in a blog entry Friday. "We'll then process the imagery of the river and the communities as usual, stitching the still photos into 360-degree panoramics."

"For many outdoor enthusiasts, travelers and environmentalists, this creates an opportunity to experience the wonders of the Amazon, which will be accessible in a way they'd previously only dreamed about," they added. "We're honored to work with FAS on this project to bring the Amazon online for those who can´t visit in person, and help our partners share with the world the unique stories of its inhabitants and the beauty of this place they call home."

In related news, ConsumerReports.org reported that the company had also added a new weather layer to its Google Maps application.

The move will allow users "to view current temperatures, weather conditions, and cloud conditions across the globe," the website's Evan MacDonald wrote on August 19. He added that the additions should "help make travel planning easier, because users can see weather conditions while they´re looking up directions to a picnic or any outdoor activity."

McDonald reports that users who want to add the weather layer to Google Maps should hover over a widget located in the upper-right corner of a map. Doing so will cause icons to appear on-screen, which will allow people to view current temperatures, a five-day forecast, and other climate-related information for any city.

"Google said the weather information is provided by The Weather Channel´s weather.com and the cloud information is provided by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory," the Consumer Reports writer added. "Google Maps already offers a number of other features, such as traffic conditions, topography, and 'street view,' which allows a user to see 360-degree photos of certain streets."


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