Several years in the making, the Google Street View “Special Collections” project is beginning to finally roll out to the public. Back in November of 2009, Google launched a Street View competition in conjunction with a new image capture vehicle, The Google Trike. Previously limited to the roadways that the Google Car could travel on, the 2009 contest aimed to utilize the Google Trike, a three-wheeled manually powered vehicle decked out with the same high-def camera equipment as the car, to navigate previously unreachable destinations. But where to take it first? Among the many destinations, including stat parks and national landmarks, was the idea of tackling the college campus.
Rochester Institute of Technology students came out in full force for the contest, which aimed to select the first campuses to be featured, making it into the top five universities in the nomination process, along with Arizona State, Michigan State, Princeton and Stanford. At the end of the contest, RIT, one of the largest computing colleges in the country, came out the victor and was privileged to be one of the first campuses in the country to host the Google Trike in the fall of 2010.
The visit from Google last fall was an exciting day for yours truly, as I was able to ride in the Google Car and help the driver navigate our 1300 acre campus while the Trike operator, a former Marine, huffed the 250 lb. trike over every campus walking path. The images spent a year in development with the Google Maps team, matching location and applying software to blur individual faces. Now, several years in making, Google has finally rolled out the results – a streetview-powered walking tour of the RIT campus.
While here at RIT we’re excited at the results, we’re already looking ahead to all the cool stuff we can do with this. Data layering, and mobile apps, and campus tours, Oh my!
Ashley Hennigan is Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Rochester Institute of Technology